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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he has major concerns regarding the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and worries family gatherings will contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the outbreak is heading in the wrong direction, and with Thanksgiving around the corner, families must assess the risks of gathering this year.

“We’re in a position that’s really precarious,” he said. “I’m 79 years old – I feel less worried about myself than my daughters feel, but they don’t want to put their daddy at risk.”

Fauci said he’ll be joining his family for Thanksgiving virtually this year, and while he urges other Americans to consider doing so as well, he asked those who do plan to gather in person to wear masks and open windows to increase air ventilation.

“You don’t want to be a person ─ the Grinch ─ who stole Thanksgiving,” Fauci said.

Dr. Anne Monroe with George Washington University said there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for families when it comes to celebrating the holidays safely.

“The important thing here is to try to minimize risk as much as possible,” she said. “Encourage attendees to wear a mask. Even if people do gather, it shouldn’t feel like a normal Thanksgiving because nothing is normal this year.”

Fauci cautioned that things won’t be returning to normal for quite some time.

“I think people who think once you get a vaccine we can forget about public health measure it’s not going to be that way for a considerable period of time, many, many months into 2021 if not the entire year,” he said.