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As holidays approach, Fauci discusses COVID-19 "risk/benefit ratio"

Dr. Fauci on record COVID-19 cases in U.S.
Dr. Fauci on record COVID-19 cases in U.S., holiday safety 05:28

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top expert on infectious diseases,  is urging Americans to "use common sense" as millions of people get ready to see family for the Thanksgiving holiday. Fauci spoke to "CBS This Morning" Friday as coronavirus cases continue to surge in most of the country.

While he has previously discouraged people from gathering with anyone outside of their immediate family for the holiday season, Fauci cautioned those getting together to weigh the risks of what safety measures to take to minimize the chances of COVID-19 transmission. 

"Nothing is going to be perfect in this," Fauci said. "Obviously, it's kind of difficult to be eating and drinking at a dinner with a mask on…to the extent that you can, keep that mask on."

He added that masks should be worn indoors at all times, regardless of the gathering's size.

"People who say wear a mask indoors, they're really talking about when you get into a setting where you're really unsure what the status of people are," Fauci explained.

However, if attendees all quarantined and tested negative for COVID-19, Fauci said the risk would decrease. People should consider a "risk/benefit ratio" in assessing the situation, adding that nothing was "risk-free."

He continued: "Of course, it's not 100% that they couldn't have gotten infected from the time they got tested to time they got there."

Fauci's warning comes as the U.S. grapples with a string of record-breaking days in COVID-19 cases, including the single-day number topping 150,000 Thursday. 

"There are a number of factors feeding into this," Fauci said. "Our baseline of infections all along has never gone down to a level that would allow you to be easily controllable when you get cases that soar up for a variety of reasons."

He said the winter season made the pandemic all the more "problematic" due to people moving indoors for activities. He also said it's "understandable" that some people have let their guard down after so many months.

"I don't want to be critical of that, but we want to just plead with them to understand the dynamics of this outbreak," he said.  

Fauci also called for more widespread COVID-19 testing.

"If you only test people who are symptomatic you are going to miss the asymptomatic people who are silently spreading the outbreak," he said.

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