CDC urges Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving

thanksgiving turkey
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  • The CDC is recommending against any travel, no matter how limited, for Thanksgiving this year.

  • If you are eating Thanksgiving dinner with people you don’t live with, the CDC is recommending wearing masks. 

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The US Centers for Disease Control is recommending against traveling, even a short distance, to have Thanksgiving with family and friends outside your household this year.

“We’re alarmed,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager said Thursday on a call with reporters, announcing new Thanksgiving guidance released Thursday cautioning against holiday travel during the coronavirus pandemic. “COVID-19 is turning out to be quite a formidable foe.”

Many areas of the country are dealing with unprecedented COVID-19 case numbers and deaths, and the disease — which often spreads quietly from people who show no symptoms —  has killed more than 250,000 people across the US so far. 

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Walke said. Acknowledging that many Americans will be going ahead with their plans regardless, he urged them to follow “the same recommendations for everyday living during this pandemic” such as mask-wearing and hand-washing.

There is no way for the CDC to mandate travel bans. The US approach to limiting national travel is patchwork, based on each state’s own rules.

Instead, the CDC is urging Americans to think carefully about what is the right thing to do.

“The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members, from coming together in this family gathering actually could end up being hospitalized and severely ill and die,” Walke said.

CDC: Do not invite people over

The CDC said Thanksgiving dinners should be limited to households only. If people haven’t been living together already for two weeks, they should not be considered members of the same household on Thanksgiving.

The CDC said if you do choose to dine with someone you haven’t been living with this Thanksgiving, you should take extra precautions, adding more distance, ventilation, and masks.

College students traveling home for the holidays and their families should be extra cautious, the public health agency said.

The agency also suggested opening windows, designating one person to serve food, using single-use plastic utensils, and cutting down on the number of people in the kitchen. 

“These times are tough,” Walke said. “It’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months now, and people are tired, and we understand that. People want to see their relatives and their friends in the way they’ve always done it. But this year, particularly, we’re asking people to be as safe as possible and limit their travel.”

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