CDC director warns small household gatherings are increasing COVID-19 spread – SFGate

Small gatherings are increasing the spread of COVID-19 across the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield warned  on a call Tuesday.

Redfield’s remarks were made, according to CNN, as 44 states see an increase in cases.

“In the public square, we’re seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions,” Redfield told governors on the call.

“But what we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings,” Redfield said. “Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”

The state of California has also keyed into the issue around small gatherings, and earlier this week it released guidelines for small private outdoor gatherings with friends.

The new guidelines say attendees must be from no more than three separate households and gatherings should last no more than two hours.

Gatherings “should be and must be done outside,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. People are also expected to take safety precautions, including wearing masks, practicing physical distancing and washing hands.

In the past, the state discouraged any gatherings outside of a single household, but now it says gatherings are allowed if these conditions are met.

Ghaly said the guidelines are meant to recognize that many close friends and relatives have been apart a long time and increasingly want to be together, especially with the holidays ahead.

The intention of the guidelines is not to encourage gatherings, but to inspire people to socialize safely when they do.

“Guidance here does not mean go,” he said. “It does not mean that we’re endorsing or suggesting small gatherings happen. We just want to provide important ways to reduce your risk, so you protect yourselves, your families and your communities.”

“We believe and still really support the messaging that spending time with your household alone is the way we can reduce transmission the best,” he said.

While cases are exploding across the country and in many European nations. California is generally doing well this month with the positivity rate holding below 3% and the 14-day rolling average of new cases at 3,193, three times less than where the average was at the peak in July.

“We don’t see the surge other parts of the country are experiencing and other parts of the globe,” Ghaly said. “We don’t want to see the spike that could rightfully happen.”