Dr. Fauci and Norah O'Donnell talk COVID-19 surge


Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell that the United States needs to redouble its efforts to contain the coronavirus as we enter the fall and winter months.

“What we really have to do is double down” on preventive measures like social distancing and wearing masks, Fauci said in the interview Wednesday. He noted that coronavirus cases are surging in 37 states, a concerning rise affecting over three-quarters of the country.

“That is not a good sign as you’re entering into the cooler weather,” Fauci warned. He stressed that the same protocols health officials have been advising for months — wash your hands frequently, social distance, wear a mask, avoid crowds — are as essential as ever, seven months into the pandemic.

“They sound very simple, but people are not doing that and that’s why we have an uptick in cases,” he said. 

The surge could be made worse as families across the country travel and gather for the holiday season. Fauci said some beloved traditions like big Thanksgiving gatherings may need to be avoided this year to keep people safe.

“That is unfortunately a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting,” he said. “It is unfortunate, because that’s such a sacred part of American tradition — the family gathering around Thanksgiving. But that is a risk.” 

Asked what his advice would be to Americans making plans for the November holiday, Fauci said they should evaluate the status of cases across the country.

“Given the fluid and dynamic nature of what’s going on right now in the spread and the uptick of infections, I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings, particularly when members of the family might be at a risk because of their age or their underlying condition,” he said

“You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering, unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected.”

He said that his own Thanksgiving “is going to look very different this year.” He shared that his children, who live in three different states, have decided not to return home in order to protect his health, since at 79 years old he is in a higher-risk group.

“They themselves, because of their concern for me and my age, have decided they’re not going to come home for Thanksgiving — even though all three of them want very much to come home for Thanksgiving.”

Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also spoke about President Trump’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis and recovery.

“We’re very pleased” with how well Mr. Trump is doing, he said. But he also warned that not everyone who contracts the virus will be so fortunate. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Portions of Norah O’Donnell’s interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci will air on the “CBS Evening News” on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS and 10 p.m. ET on CBSN.

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