Exactly one week before Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on the holiday, recommending Americans stay home and avoid traveling to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amid a nationwide spike in cases.
“As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” the guidance on the CDC’s website stated.
The health agency said that gathering with relatives and friends outside a person’s household raises the risk of becoming infected with or spreading COVID-19.
“Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year,” the agency emphasized.
If families do decide to include returning college students, military members or others for turkey and stuffing, the CDC is recommending that the hosts take added precautions: Gatherings should be outdoors if possible, with people keeping 6 feet apart and wearing masks and just one person serving the food.
Those who are still considering heading out of town to visit family members or friends should ask themselves some important questions prior to traveling, the guidance said.
The questions include:
- Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?
- Are cases high or increasing in your community or your destination? (To find out, you can look at the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker for the latest number of cases)
- Are hospitals in your community or your destination already overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients who have COVID-19? (You can find out by checking state and local public health department websites.)
- Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? (Find out State and local requirements through the CDC’s travel planner)
- Have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don’t live with in the 14 days prior to your travels?
- Do your plans include traveling by bus, train or air?
- Will you be traveling with people you don’t live with?
Would-be travelers who can answer “yes” to any of those questions are urged by the CDC to stay home and think about making alternate plans, such as holding a virtual gathering.
CDC’s updated guidance came as the U.S. reported more than 1 million new coronavirus cases in the last seven days, according to data from the agency. California has recorded 63,107 new COVID-19 cases over the same period, the second most in the U.S. behind Illinois.
In addition to rising cases, the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 in the U.S. has doubled in the past month and set new records every day this week. Nearly 77,000 were hospitalized with the virus as of Tuesday.
Newly confirmed infections per day in the U.S. have exploded more than 80% over the past two weeks to the highest levels on record, with the daily count running at close to 160,000 on average. Cases are on the rise in all 50 states. Deaths are averaging more than 1,155 per day, the highest in months.
The deadly comeback by the virus has been blamed in part on pandemic fatigue, or people getting tired of masks and other precautions.
The out-of-control surge has led governors and mayors across the U.S. to issue mask mandates, limit the size of private and public gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving, ban indoor restaurant dining, close gyms or restrict the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses.