Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert who sits on President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, on Thursday sternly rebuked the CDC’s guidance on holiday travel as the country hit a record of more than 3,100 deaths and 106,000 hospitalizations in a single day from COVID-19.
Last week, the CDC urged Americans against traveling for Christmas, but recommended that those who choose to travel for the holiday should get tested one to three days before a trip and three to five days afterward. Those who aren’t tested should reduce nonessential activities for 10 days after travel.
During an interview on CNN Thursday morning, Osterholm warned against large Christmas gatherings, saying that people should only celebrate the holiday with the people in their households, whom they’ve “podded” with.
“Don’t get together with neighbors. No Christmas parties,” Osterholm said. “There is not a safe Christmas party in this country right now unless everybody for the previous 10-14 days were podded.”
Osterholm added that “the next three to six weeks at minimum, longer, are our COVID weeks” in light of surging cases amid the holiday season.
Osterholm went on to pan the CDC’s guidance during holiday season. Osterholm argued that the CDC’s guidance should contain “hard language” that speaks to the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 290,000 Americans thus far.
“I think we just really have to tell the American public in hard language what’s happening here,” Osterholm said. “And far too often I think we’ve tried to, you might say, split the middle.”
Osterholm thinks the CDC’s holiday guidance is “nuanced” and likened it to warning against drunk driving, yet providing guidelines to do so anyway.
“I have a real problem with the CDC’s recommendation with what to do over the holiday period. It’s nuanced, it’s basically saying, ‘Don’t get together, but if you are going to get together do these things,’” Osterholm said. “That’s like telling somebody, ‘Don’t drive drunk, but if you do drive drunk, these are the best ways to do it.’ We have to be really hard.”
Osterholm added that he doesn’t care if he’s “accused of being the Grinch that stole Christmas.”
“But you know what? I want you to be around for the next Christmas and the next Christmas after that,” Osterholm said.
Osterholm’s remarks highlight the Biden transition team and members of the President-elect’s incoming administration’s demands for Americans to adhere to mitigation strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as the country continues setting dire records in infection and fatality rates.
Meanwhile, President Trump and those in his inner circle have taken a more lax approach amid surging COVID-19 cases throughout the country by throwing a slew of holiday parties on White House grounds where guests often aren’t wearing masks nor social distancing. Trump has continued waging false claims of widespread election fraud even during holiday events at the White House.
Watch Osterholm’s remarks below:
Biden COVID Adviser Dr. Osterholm says CDC holiday guidance is like saying “don’t drive drunk, but if you do drive drunk these are the best ways to do it.” pic.twitter.com/WE31Qi3Ih7
— The Recount (@therecount) December 10, 2020