Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious diseases, gave a live interview with The Washington Post Monday as cases of COVID-19 are spiking across the country at unprecedented levels.
Fauci's interview comes just ahead of Thanksgiving — an event that health experts warn could cause further spread of the virus despite warnings from the CDC against gathering in-person.
While Fauci said every family needed to assess their own situation and make their own determination, he recommended that Thanksgiving gatherings should be limited to the members of a single household.
He added that if Americans do travel to another home for Thanksgiving, he recommended everyone should wear masks while indoors, except when eating or drinking.
In the month of November alone, more than 3 million people across the U.S. are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19. The 3 million cases represent about 25% of all cases the country has seen since the pandemic reached the U.S. in February.
The spike in cases has prompted a frightening jump in hospitalizations and deaths linked to the virus. A record 83,000 people are currently battling COVID-19 in a hospital, and for the last week, an average of 1,400 people in the U.S. have died of the virus each day.
Fauci said that if Americans don't follow common-sense public health measures over the Thanksgiving holiday, that it could exacerbate the current spike in cases. He said that within two or three weeks, the already steep spike in cases could become even steeper.
"The chances are that you will see a surge superimposed on a surge," Fauci said.
Fauci again recommended that Americans adopt uniform mask-wearing, keep social distance, avoid large crowds, gather outdoors as opposed to indoors and continuously wash hands to avoid spreading the virus.
There are some encouraging signs that there may be some relief soon. On Monday, AstraZeneca joined Pfizer and Moderna in reporting that initial studies show its vaccine candidate is 90% effective in preventing the virus. All three vaccines may soon be authorized for emergency use in the coming weeks.
Fauci said he hopes the encouraging news on vaccines is an "incentive" for Americans to double down on public health measures.
"Help is on the way," Fauci said.
Fauci said Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines could be out for distribution as soon as mid-December. However, it will be initially rationed for people in vulnerable populations before becoming available to the general public by spring 2021.
Finally, Fauci says he has not yet spoken to president-elect Joe Biden. While he did not go into specifics, his comments are consistent with the Trump administration's refusal to work with Biden's transition team. The General Services Administration still has not ascertained Biden as the winner of the 2020 election, meaning the incoming Biden administration does not yet have access to funds and information a transition team would typically have.