Conservatives Slam Anthony Fauci for Saying 'Too Soon' to Plan for Christmas

Anthony Fauci, the president's chief medical adviser, has told Americans that it is "too soon to tell" whether or not they will be able to gather safely for Christmas 2021, warning against complacency in tackling COVID-19.

Appearing on CBS's Face The Nation, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director was asked about new research that found COVID can now spread via the air more effectively than previously thought, and whether that brings greater risk heading into the cold winter months.

Host Margaret Brennan asked: "We're going into the holidays, do people need to start looking around and saying it's just too risky to gather with family members if there are unvaccinated children?"

Fauci replied that "even if you are vaccinated and you are in an indoor setting, a congregate setting, it just makes sense to wear a mask and to avoid high-risk situations. And what we should be doing is look at ventilation in indoor places."

He added: "We know now that this is clearly spread by aerosol, and when you have something spread by aerosol you absolutely want more ventilation, which is the reason why outdoors is always much safer than indoors."

Asked by Brennan: "But we can gather for Christmas, or it's just too soon to tell?" Fauci replied: "It's just too soon to tell."

Some conservatives on Twitter honed in on Fauci's response.

Claudia Tenney, the Republican representative for New York, wrote: "I would like to inform Biden and Fauci that regardless of what they say, Americans are celebrating Christmas."

Fox News host Laura Ingraham wrote: "The Fauci Who Stole Christmas," in a play on Dr. Seuss' children's story How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The Fauci Who Stole Christmas:

MARGARET BRENNAN: But we can gather for Christmas, or it's just too soon to tell.
DR. FAUCI: You know, Margaret, it's just too soon to tell. (Face the Nation)

Biden’s going to regret not showing him the door sooner.

— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 3, 2021

Sean Parnell, the author and Donald Trump-endorsed Pennsylvania Senate candidate, wrote: "Someone tell this guy that we celebrated Christmas together with our families last year & are going to do it again this year."

Last Christmas and New Year, about 80 million Americans traveled, directly flouting public health officials' repeated warnings that doing so could worsen the pandemic.

The U.S. COVID death toll has since doubled from approximately 326,000 then to 700,000 today.

In recent times, however, data—highlighted by Fauci in the interview—suggest COVID case counts and hospitalizations have fallen dramatically.

Latest figures show there were 106,941 cases reported in the U.S. on Sunday, down 28 percent from two weeks before. Meanwhile, about 56 percent of U.S. residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID.

Despite the improving picture, Fauci encouraged the public to keep wearing masks and getting vaccinations or booster shots, warning: "We don't want to become complacent."

"We've just got to concentrate on continuing to get those numbers down and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we're going to do at a particular time," he said.

"Let's focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down. And we can do it by people getting vaccinated and also in the situation where boosters are appropriate to get people boosted because we know that they can help greatly in diminishing infection and diminishing advanced disease, the kinds of data that are now accumulating in real time."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists several factors (shown below) that can contribute to the likelihood of attendees getting and spreading COVID-19 at large events.

Risk Factors to Consider for Gatherings

Number of COVID-19 cases in your community—High or increasing levels of COVID-19 cases in the event location or the locations the attendees are coming from increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Relevant data can often be found on the local health department website or on CDC's COVID Data Tracker County View.

Exposure during travel—Airports, airplanes, bus stations, buses, train stations, trains, public transport, gas stations, and rest stops are all places where physical distancing may be challenging and ventilation may be poor.
Setting of the event—Indoor events, especially in places with poor ventilation, pose more risk than outdoor events.

Length of the event—Events that last longer pose more risk than shorter events. Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more (over a 24-hour period) greatly increases the risk of becoming infected and requires quarantine.

Number and crowding of people at the event—Events with more people increase the likelihood of being exposed. The size of the event should be determined based on whether attendees from different households can stay at least 6 feet (2 arm lengths)

Physical distancing at events can reduce transmission risk—for example, blocking off seats or modifying room layouts.

Behavior of attendees during an event—Events where people engage in behaviors such as interacting with others from outside their own household, singing, shouting, not maintaining physical distancing, or not wearing masks consistently and correctly, can increase risk.

Anthony Fauci at the White House.
Anthony Fauci, pictured here at a press briefing at the White House on April 13, 2021, has said it is too soon to look ahead at COVID-19 restrictions for Christmas 2021. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

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