The Senior Medical Advisor to the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci said holiday parties with vaccinated family and friends were a relatively low risk, even if the Covid-19 variant of the omicron spreads in the US and causes “many breakthrough infections”.
“If you are vaccinated, your family is vaccinated, you have friends who are vaccinated – and hopefully also upgraded – you can generally still enjoy socializing in a house,” Fauci said in an interview on Friday in the Squawk Box ”from CNBC.
Covid hospital admissions have increased about 20% in the past two weeks, averaging 68,400 in the past seven days, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health. At the height of the delta wave in September, more than 100,000 Covid patients were in hospital.
“The risk is never zero”
While Delta is still the dominant variant in the US, the number of Omicron cases will double every few days or so. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Omicron accounted for about 3% of the cases sequenced in the US Thursday.
Daily Covid cases rose 27% since before Thanksgiving to a seven-day average of 122,000, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Cases remain below recent highs, when the country reported an average of more than 170,000 daily cases in September.
“You have to be careful when entering large, public indoor spaces that are crowded with people,” said Fauci. “That’s why you should wear a mask under these circumstances.”
Fauci said if Covid cases continue to rise, people will have to be “potentially more restrictive” on their vacation plans. “But right now, people who have been vaccinated and boosted should be reasonably comfortable.”
“The risk is never zero. It is safe under all circumstances,” he said.
Is it safe to fly
Despite rising omicron cases, Fauci said he would be comfortable with taking precautions if necessary.
“If I had to, I would have no problem getting on a plane. I am vaccinated. I have a boost. I know we have to wear a mask on an airplane, ”he said, noting that he has no plans to fly anywhere as work keeps him in Washington.
Fauci said masks work on airplanes and indoors like airports. “There’s no doubt that cloth masks work,” he said. “The N95 is the best. But they are relatively uncomfortable. Not many people wear them. But a normal surgical mask and a cloth mask are fine.”
The best way to protect yourself from contracting Covid is to get a vaccination and a booster, added Fauci.
– CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report.