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Dr. Anthony Fauci has clarified he's not calling on Americans to cancel Christmas this year and is, in fact, urging them to have a "good, normal" holiday.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made headlines on Sunday after he said on Face the Nation that it's "too soon to tell" whether it will be safe for Americans to safely gather for Christmas. But on Monday, he told CNN his comments were "misinterpreted" and that it's "absolutely not the case" that Americans can't spend Christmas with their families this year.
"I will be spending Christmas with my family," Fauci said. "I encourage people, particularly the vaccinated people who are protected, to have a good, normal Christmas with your family."
Fauci's original comments had sparked criticism, with CNN's Brian Stetler arguing they seemed "unhelpful from a public health messaging" prespective. But Fauci told CNN his remarks were misinterpreted "just the way all of the other disinformation goes around" and that he only meant to suggest it's not clear what things will look like going into the winter. In the original Face the Nation interview, Fauci stressed the need to concentrate on bringing COVID-19 cases down and not trying to "jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we're going to do at a particular time."
Last year, before COVID-19 vaccines were widely available in the United States, Fauci revealed he did not plan to see his kids for Christmas, which he described as a "painful" decision that was "just one of the things you're going to have to accept as we go through this unprecedented challenging time."