Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that family gatherings over the holidays should be limited to fewer than 10 people.
Fauci made the comment while appearing via video link on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus briefing.
Cuomo asked Fauci for his view on New York’s emergency rule, implemented last month, capping private in-home gatherings at 10 participants.
“Ten may even be a bit too much,” Fauci replied. “It’s not only the number, it’s the people who might be coming in from out of town. You want to make sure you don’t have people who just got off a plane or a train. That’s even more risky than the absolute number.”
Cuomo has drawn criticism from some conservatives for implementing the emergency rule. Some upstate sheriffs have refused to enforce it.
During the briefing in Albany, Cuomo acknowledged that “compliance is very low on that.”
But Fauci broadly endorsed New York state’s restrictions, warning that holiday gatherings could emerge as major vectors.
“You get indoors, you take your mask off because you’re eating and drinking, and you don’t realize that there may be somebody that you know that you love who is perfectly well with no symptoms and yet they got infected into the community.”
Fauci said despite public health warnings he expects coronavirus cases to continue surging nationwide into January as holiday gatherings infect more people.
Today’s update on the numbers:
Total COVID hospitalizations are at 4,602.
Of the 152,287 tests reported yesterday, 7,302 were positive (4.79% of total).
Sadly, there were 80 fatalities. pic.twitter.com/KdJtaFqpqA
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) December 7, 2020
“We could start to see things start to get really bad in the middle of January, not only for New York state but for any state or city,” Fauci said, adding that the middle of January could be “a really dark time for us.”
Meanwhile, Cuomo said he may again ban indoor restaurant dining in New York City if hospitalizations keep rising.
There are currently 4,602 people hospitalized statewide, with 7,302 new coronavirus cases and 80 fatalities reported on Sunday, according to state officials.