(CNBC) – A member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force on Friday urged Americans to avoid traveling over Thanksgiving, saying it would only make the pandemic in the United States worse.
“Right now we have a fire blazing and to me traveling and spending time with people over the holidays is sort of like pouring gasoline on a fire,” Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of Biden Covid-19 advisory board, said during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “It’s just not a good idea in the middle of a pandemic, especially at this juncture.”
Gounder’s comment came after the U.S. hit another record high in daily new cases, reporting more than 150,000 new Covid cases on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The seven-day average of daily new infections now stands at 131,445, 32% higher than a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data.
Public health officials and infectious disease experts are worried about the next few months of the pandemic. The approaching holidays are setting the country up for a lethal winter and spring since hospitalizations and deaths lag newly diagnosed infections by a few weeks, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, said in a recent interview.
“The upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving, Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s create the potential for innumerable super-spreading events across the country,” he said. “This has the potential to introduce and reintroduce the virus to new areas and to further exacerbate community transmission.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been warning about the risks of celebrating Thanksgiving this year, saying small household gatherings, especially with people you don’t live with, are an important contributor to the rise in Covid-19 cases. The agency said celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses the lowest risk for spread.
In New York, where cases are on the rise again, Mayor Bill de Blasio has urged all residents to not travel out of the state for the holiday due to the risk of bringing back the disease.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said last month that his kids won’t be coming home for Thanksgiving this year due to fear of possibly spreading the coronavirus.
“My Thanksgiving is going to look very different this year,” he said in an interview with CBS News on Oct. 14. “I would love to have it with my children, but my children are in three separate states throughout the country and in order for them to get here, they would all have to go to an airport, get on a plane and travel with public transportation.”
Gounder also said Friday that it’s going to be a while before a vaccine is widely distributed, asking Americans to continue wearing masks, washing their hands and maintaining their distance from others.
“Those measures really remain at the center of the response here,” she said.
–CNBC’s Will Feuer contributed to this report.