The US has just achieved a terrible milestone: 250,000 COVID-19 deaths – and cases are on the rise in every state in the nation.

In a recent interview with USA Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warns Americans to “think twice” about holiday gatherings, urging everyone to stick to their quarantine bubbles for Christmas and Thanksgiving.

“You're going to start seeing these unanticipated infections related to innocent home gatherings, particularly as we head into the holiday season,” Fauci said, urging people to make a risk-benefit assessment. He said that his own daughters are not traveling home to visit him for the holidays. "They made a decision because of my age, that as much as they would like to see me ... that they are not going to come for Thanksgiving. ... And I'm proud of them for that.”

AAA projects at least a 10% drop in travel nationwide this holiday season. Roughly 50 million Americans are expected to travel, down from 55 million a year ago. While that's certainly a meaningful change, it is not a sign that most Americans are heeding Fauci’s advice. 

Some states have offered travel advisories, urging travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days when entering their states.

The surging virus is responsible for over 1,700 deaths a day in recent days, as well as record high hospitalizations, prompting governors nationwide to reverse their reopening plans. 

Now states across the nation are instituting new restrictions, ranging from mask mandates to closures of bars, restaurants, gyms, and even schools and offices.

On the bright side, there is a vaccine – several, in fact – on the horizon. And in an interview with Spectrum News this week, Dr. Fauci said that he "would not hesitate" to get a coronavirus vaccine.

“Independent bodies have evaluated the data who are beholden to no one – not to the administration, not to the companies, not to anyone,” Dr. Fauci told Spectrum News' Jeevan Vittal. “I can tell you I myself would not hesitate when my turn comes to take such a vaccine and to recommend to my family that they also take the vaccine.”

Dr. Fauci said the average American could get a COVID-19 vaccine as early as April. And he believes that within months, we might be able to transition to a more normal life. “When so many people are protected, that’s when you get into the real herd immunity,” he told USA Today

But first we have to get there, which means battling through a devastating wave of surging infections during the winter months.

What can you do for the holidays? Maybe take a page from Dr. Fauci’s book – try Thanksgiving via Zoom.

Dr. Fauci told Spectrum News that each person should assess their plans on a “family-by-family basis.” He said that includes considering family members who are at a higher risk and whether people can avoid exposure or get tested beforehand. 

“I'm doing that with my own family in the sense of bringing in my adult daughters who live in various parts of the country. They do not want to come home,” Dr. Fauci explained. “They would love to be with me and I would love to be with them. But they're very sensitive about my age [and] that I'm in a vulnerable group. 

"We're going to say we had a great Thanksgiving last year, we're looking forward to a great Thanksgiving next year, but today, we're going to call a timeout," Dr. Fauci told USA Today.