Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the U.S., warned that the Christmas season could be worse than Thanksgiving in terms of the spread of COVID-19.

The Christmas holiday is longer and “I think it could be even more of a challenge than what we saw with Thanksgiving,” Fauci said in CNN interview.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.2 per cent as compared to the same time Sunday to 14.8 million, as of 6:32 a.m. New York time, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

“So I hope that people realize that and understand that, as difficult as this is, nobody wants to modify if not essentially shut down their holiday season, but we are in a very critical time in this country right now,” Fauci said.