Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and top public health advisor to President Joe Biden, said during an interview with CBS News on Sunday it was “too soon” to determine if people can celebrate Christmas with their families and friends this year. Fauci later walked back the comments, accusing critics of taking his words “out of context.”
“But we can gather for Christmas, or it’s just too soon to tell?” CBS News host Margaret Brennan asked Dr. Fauci on Sunday.
“It’s just too soon to tell,” Fauci told Brennan. “We’ve just got to [be] concentrating 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. 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.”
On Monday, Fauci reversed course, saying he was “taken out of context.”
“You know, I also said something over the weekend that was taken completely out of context. I was asked what can we predict for this winter for like December and Christmas,” he claimed.
The exact question Fauci was asked was, “But can we gather for Christmas, or it’s just too soon to tell?” to which he responded, “It’s just too soon to tell.”
“I said, we don’t know, because we’ve seen slopes that went down and then came back up. The best way to assure that we’ll be in good shape as we get into the winter would be to get more and more people vaccinated. That was misinterpreted as my saying, ‘we can’t spend Christmas with our families’ which was absolutely not the case,” Fauci continued on Monday. “I will be spending Christmas with my family. I encourage people, particularly the vaccinated people who are protected, to have a good, normal Christmas with your family. But just the way all of the disinformation goes around, you say something talking about a landmark of a time and it gets misinterpreted that I’m saying you can’t spend family Christmas time. Which is nonsense. You can.”
When asked if President Joe Biden agrees with Fauci’s Sunday comments that it was “too soon” to determine if people can gather with their friends and family at Christmas, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said “the president relies on CDC guidelines” to make recommendations on gatherings.
“Well, the president relies on CDC guidelines and they have not changed their guidelines about who can gather together: those who are vaccinated,” Psaki said. “But we leave it to them if they need to change their guidelines based on where the pandemic sits.”