The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is strongly recommending that people stay home for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. With the holiday one week away, the agency issued a statement that taking a trip to see loved ones is simply inadvisable right now.
"Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19," the CDC explained in an advisory released Thursday. "Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year."
The better bet, the CDC advised, was for people instead to spend Thanksgiving with the folks with whom they have been living for the two weeks leading up to the holiday.
"If people have not been actively living with you for the 14 days before you're celebrating, they're not considered a member of your household," Erin Sauber-Schatz of the CDC said at a news briefing Thursday. "And therefore you need to take those extra precautions, even wearing masks within your own home."
If you do travel, the CDC advised that you take a series of steps to protect yourself and others — including wearing a mask, staying 6 feet from others and frequently washing your hands. But the agency added: "Celebrating virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice this Thanksgiving."
The agency's recommendation came less than a day after the U.S. marked a grim milestone in its fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As of Wednesday, more than 250,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
What's more, the spread of the disease appears to be exploding in the U.S., with several dozen states shattering records for daily new confirmed cases in the past week alone. The virus appears to be savaging the middle of the country, in particular, with records for new cases per capita being set from Montana to Nebraska.
Roughly 1 million new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the U.S. in the past week.
The dire numbers already had people reconsidering their Thanksgiving plans before the rollout of the new CDC recommendations, as NPR's David Schaper noted. AAA estimated that fewer Americans would be traveling for the holiday than last year — though this year's number still hovers around 50 million people.