The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging all Americans to stay home for Thanksgiving this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. During the agency's first telebriefing since August, top health officials said that traveling to visit family and friends could increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 at a time when the nation is dealing with an "exponential increase" in the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
"One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it," Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's Covid-19 incident manager, said. "From an individual household level, what's at stake is basically increased chance of one of your loved ones becoming sick and then hospitalized and dying."
The agency also updated its website with new guidelines to help people celebrate Thanksgiving safely with people outside of their households. Some of those guidelines include:
- Check the COVID-19 infection rates in areas where attendees live on state, local, territorial, or tribal health department websites. Based on the current status of the pandemic, consider if it is safe to hold or attend the gathering on the proposed date.
- Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
- Host outdoor rather than indoor gatherings as much as possible. Even outdoors, require guests to wear masks when not eating or drinking.
- Avoid holding gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with persons who are not in your household.
- Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
The CDC also said that guests should wear masks at all times and practice social distancing. The agency advised against singing loudly or playing loud music that forces people to shout to be heard.
"Our hope is that the recommendations posted online today can help people celebrate as safely as possible -- all Americans want to do the right things to protect our families, even when there are hard decisions to be made," Walke said.
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