Dr. Anthony Fauci will be celebrating his 80th birthday on Thursday, Christmas Eve.
However, similar to his Thanksgiving celebrations, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert will be spending his birthday and the holidays reconnecting with family over Zoom.
Fauci has three adult daughters who all live in different parts of the country.
“The Christmas holiday is a special holiday for us because Christmas Eve is my birthday. And Christmas Day is Christmas Day. And they are not going to come home … that’s painful,” he told The Washington Post. “But that’s just one of the things you’re going to have to accept as we go through this unprecedented challenging time.”
The United States continues to suffer through an unprecedented coronavirus surge that many experts say resulted from Thanksgiving gatherings and travel. More than 317,000 people have died in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins data.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director said during the Milken Institute’s Future of Health Summit on Dec. 7 that the aftermath of Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve will be worse than Thanksgiving.
While Thanksgiving was often only a few days of traveling and congregating, Fauci argues the upcoming holidays of Christmas through New Year’s Eve “extends that vulnerable period by two or three times.”
“That’s why the Christmas issue bothers me more than Thanksgiving,” Fauci told CBS Evening News’ Norah O’Donnell, who moderated the summit.
Luckily, there are still some traditions that families can hold onto during the pandemic in their own households. Children around the world can expect their favorite, jolly friend to visit them this Christmas Eve as Santa is immune to the coronavirus.
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“Santa is exempt from this because Santa, of all the good qualities, has a lot of good innate immunity,” Fauci told USA TODAY on Nov. 18.
It should come as no surprise. As children already know, Santa is superhuman. He flies around the world in one night, delivers millions of toys and eats his weight in cookies.
But as an extra measure of precaution, Fauci said he took a trip to the North Pole and vaccinated St. Nick himself, according to a “Sesame Street” town hall with CNN. While he was there, Fauci also measured Santa’s level of immunity.
“He’s good to go,” Fauci said.
Contributing: Grace Hauck, USA TODAY. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.
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