Dr Anthony Fauci has revealed that he won’t be spending time with his children for Christmas this year and encouraged others to do the same as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the US.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert told The Washington Post that while the decision is ‘painful’ it’s also ‘just one of the things you’re going to have to accept as we go through this unprecedented challenging time’.
Fauci will also be turning 80 on Christmas Eve, a time usually spent with his wife, Christine Grady, and their daughters, Jennifer, 34, Megan, 31 and Alison, 28.
However, Fauci explained that it will just be him and his wife for Christmas. It will mark the first time in 30 years that Fauci hasn’t spent the holiday and his birthday with his children.
‘I’m going to be with my wife. Period. The Christmas holiday is a special holiday for us because Christmas Eve is my birthday. And Christmas Day is Christmas Day. And they are not going to come home … That’s painful. We don’t like that,’ he told the Post.
Fauci made the same decision in November, opting only to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his wife.
He told Americans that they should consider staying put for Christmas because ‘we’re already in a very difficult situation and we’re going to make it worse’ if the holiday season continues as usual.
Fauci said the US is seeing a ‘dramatic’ increase in COVID-19 infections after millions ignored the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC)’s advice to not travel for Thanksgiving.
‘Keep yourself and your family healthy so that you’ll have many more Christmases ahead of you,’ Fauci told the Post, adding that with the vaccines heading out, it’s ‘highly likely’ that things will be ‘back to normal by next Christmas’.
For Thanksgiving, vehicle travel in early November was as much as 20 per cent lower than a year earlier, but it surged around the holiday and peaked on Thanksgiving Day at only about 5 per cent less than the pandemic-free period in 2019, according to StreetLight Data.
Airports also saw some of their busiest days of the pandemic, though air travel was much lower than last year.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened more than 1 million passengers on four separate days during the Thanksgiving travel period.
Since the pandemic gutted travel in March, there has been only one other day when the number of travelers topped 1 million: October 18.
‘If only a small percentage of those travelers were asymptomatically infected, this can translate into hundreds of thousands of additional infections moving from one community to another,’ Dr Cindy Friedman, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official, said during a briefing.
The CDC has urged people to stay home for Christmas, but officials acknowledged that many people would not heed that advice and advised them to get tested before and after trips.
Friedman said that this year’s holidays presented ‘tough choices’ for many families.
And while many didn’t stay home for Thanksgiving, AAA is predicting a 29 per cent drop in travel for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The projection was published in the agency’s Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast report on Tuesday, which is predicting 34 million fewer travelers compared to last year’s season between December 23 through January 3.
The slump will be the largest decline on record, ending a streak of 11 consecutive years of holiday travel growth. It also marks the lowest travel volume in the country since 2002.
‘Public health concerns, official guidance not to travel, and an overall decline in consumer sentiment have encouraged the vast majority of Americans to stay home for the holidays,’ the publication reads.
According to the report, auto travel is expected to fall by 25 per cent, while air travel is predicted to fall by 60 per cent, with just 2.9 million people expected to take flights – the lowest number since 2009.
‘Travel by other modes (including bus, rail and cruise ship) will fall by at least 87 per cent to less than half a million travelers,’ the report states.
Most Americans who decide to travel will do so by car, with road trips accounting for 96 per cent of holiday travel.
But even with the sharp decline, which comes amid the CDC’s warnings to stay home to limit the spread of infection, 84.5 million Americans are still expected to ignore the advice and carry on with their travel plans.
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