CDC director warns of 'increasing threat' of coronavirus spread from small household gatherings

A podium with the logo for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the Tom Harkin Global Communications Center on October 5, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Image credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that the spread of COVID-19 through small household gatherings has become an "increasing threat."

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield made this warning during a Tuesday call with governors as new coronavirus cases rise in 36 states, CNN reports.

"In the public square, we're seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions," Redfield said. "But what we're seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings."

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Redfield went on to note that with Thanksgiving approaching, it's "really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting."

The CDC in a guidance on Thanksgiving describes "having a small dinner with only people who live in your household" as among the examples of lower risk activities, while "having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community" is considered a moderate risk. But the CDC recommends avoiding "attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household," describing this as a higher risk activity.

The new comments from Redfield come as the U.S. is reporting around 50,000 new COVID-19 cases a day.

"This is the fall/winter surge that everyone was worried about," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said on Tuesday, per CNN. "And now it's happening."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.