Fauci shares holiday guidance as COVID-19 cases continue to climb

Cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in the United States just before a Thanksgiving that most expected to be a return to pre-pandemic normal. 

The nation's seven-day average for COVID-19 cases increased 16.1 percent last week, with hospitalizations ticking upward 5.4 percent in the same time period, according to the latest CDC data.

Fully vaccinated families and friends can plan on enjoying "a typical Thanksgiving meal" together this week, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Nov. 21 appearance on ABC's "This Week." "There's no reason not to do that."

"The thing we are concerned about is the people who are not vaccinated because what they're doing is they're the major source of the dynamics of the infection in the community," he said. "And the higher the level of dynamics of infection, the more everyone is at risk."

Dr. Fauci's guidance is more relaxed than that from the CDC, which updated its guidelines for holiday gatherings in mid-October. The agency noted that masks should be worn in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status, in communities with substantial to high COVID-19 transmission. That is the current status of every U.S. state as of Nov. 21.

The CDC also recommended people who are not fully vaccinated wear masks in indoor public settings and abide by specific domestic or international travel recommendations. 

Dr. Fauci maintained that data shows the likelihood of infection, hospitalization or death is slim for those who are fully vaccinated versus not. "It's absolutely clear, the likelihood of getting infected, getting hospitalized or dying, if you're vaccinated versus nonvaccinated, weighs very, very heavily in the protection of people who are vaccinated," he said on "This Week." 

As of Nov. 21, eight states reported double-digit percentage increases in cases of COVID-19 over the past seven days, with the five states with the most pronounced gains in the Northeast and South, , according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center:

  • New York: 47.98 percent increase 
  • Vermont: 35.21 percent increase 
  • Texas: 30.37 percent increase 
  • Hawaii: 24.3 percent increase 
  • Maryland: 18.59 percent increase

The top five states reporting the largest increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past 14 days are largely clustered in the Northeast and Midwest, according to HHS data compiled by The New York Times:

  • U.S. Virgin Islands: 81 percent increase
  • New Hampshire: 59 percent increase
  • Michigan: 47 percent increase
  • Massachusetts: 40 percent increase
  • Minnesota: 37 percent increase 


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