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What Are the CDC’s No Travel Guidelines for Thanksgiving?

With less than a week until Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that Americans should avoid travel on Thursday, in a last-minute effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the holiday season.



a woman holding a bag of luggage: US-VIRUS-HEALTH-TRAVEL A passenger wearing gloves checks bags for a Delta Air Lines, Inc. flight during the Covid-19 pandemic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, November 18, 2020. The CDC recommended that Americans should avoid travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the holiday season.


© Photo by PATRICK FALLON/AFP via Getty Images/Getty
US-VIRUS-HEALTH-TRAVEL A passenger wearing gloves checks bags for a Delta Air Lines, Inc. flight during the Covid-19 pandemic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, November 18, 2020. The CDC recommended that Americans should avoid travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the holiday season.

“Right now, especially as we’re seeing this sort of exponential growth in cases, and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the county to another, it leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time,” Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said on a call with reporters Thursday.

The CDC official notes that the health institute’s “strong recommendation” is not a requirement. However, it urges people to consider the following questions before traveling:

  • Are you, someone in your immediate household or someone you will be visiting at an increased risk for contracting the virus?
  • Are cases high or on the rise in the area you will be traveling to?
  • Are hospitals in the area you will be traveling overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients?
  • During the 14 days before your travels, have you or those in your immediate household had contact with someone outside of your household?
  • Do you plan on traveling by bus, train or aircraft which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?
  • Are you planning on traveling with people outside your immediate household?

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The CDC notes that if you answer yes to any of the questions, you should consider other holiday plans—such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying your travels to another time.

The CDC recommends that you also should delay your travel plans if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19; you or someone close to you has recently tested positive for the virus; or you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results. In any of those cases, the CDC recommends that you should get tested if you haven’t already and self-isolate at home.

“For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living,” said Walke.

For those who opt to travel ahead of the holidays, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Check the travel restrictions of the area before you go.
  • Get a flu shot before traveling.
  • Always wear a mask in a public area even when using public transportation and when around people who don’t live in your immediate household.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from anyone who does not live in your immediate household.
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Pack extra supplies,
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CDC’s last-minute advice on Thanksgiving travel: Don’t do it

With Thanksgiving a week away, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to skip holiday travel this year.

The recommendation released Thursday by the CDC was a break from earlier messaging in which U.S. officials have largely declined to issue firm guidance for holiday gatherings, leaving it to American families to decide for themselves whether to risk infection at group events with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging.

The agency’s website suggests that virtual Thanksgivings pose the lowest risk, and that smaller, shorter and outdoor gatherings all help reduce the danger of viral transmission.

“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household,” said Erin Sauber-Schatz, who leads the CDC’s Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force, at a briefing with reporters.

The agency now projects a grim increase in deaths due to the virus over the next four weeks, with 7,300 to 16,000 new deaths likely to be reported in the week ending Dec. 12.

Thanksgiving is the one national holiday when Americans traditionally take a breather and get together with family. Convincing 300 million people to break with that ritual is proving to be a hard sell, especially with inconsistent messages from the nation’s leaders.

The Trump administration has sent mixed signals. The White House announced Tuesday that President Trump would remain in Washington for Thanksgiving, instead of traveling to his Palm Beach, Fla., resort, Mar-a-Lago, his usual holiday destination. Officials didn’t say why he changed his plans. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday urged Americans to celebrate only with their immediate household — a warning that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have not given.

“Gathering indoors with people who aren’t members of your household is a high-risk activity for spreading the virus,” Azar said, after previously stopping short of such a warning.

That cautionary tone, though, comes after many Americans have already made their plans and are preparing to travel. Entering the U.S. holiday season, the nation is experiencing its worst surge of the coronavirus yet. Cases are spiking nationally to record levels. The U.S. recorded 148,000 new cases on Tuesday after hitting a record daily total of 190,000 on Friday. U.S. deaths from the coronavirus have surpassed 250,000, including 1,425 on Tuesday. Hospitalizations are at a record level.

Those numbers are likely to get worse. The virus spreads easily indoors, particularly when people are eating and talking, while sitting close together and not wearing masks. And contact tracing efforts are increasingly finding clusters of infections linked to small, private social gatherings, as opposed to the super-spreader events of earlier in the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on Thursday, recommending that Americans limit in-person contact and not travel during the Thanksgiving period.

The website advises that virtual Thanksgivings pose the lowest risk, and that smaller, shorter and outdoor gatherings all help to reduce the danger of transmission.

Even Anthony Fauci, the influential director of the National Institute of

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Here are the CDC’s guidelines for safe Thanksgiving travel and gatherings

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with the coronavirus pandemic still going strong, many are wondering how — or even if — they should celebrate the holiday with their family and friends.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the safest way to have Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people you live with. Once other family and friends get involved, the chance of spreading COVID-19 and the flu increases.

If you’re going to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, CDC officials say you should take precautions to make the celebration safer.

If you’re attending a Thanksgiving gathering, CDC officials say you should bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils. They suggest using disposable plates, utensils and containers, and single-serving products, such as packets of salad dressing and condiments. They also recommend avoiding going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, have a small meal outdoors and limit the number of guests to family and friends who live in your community. If you must celebrate indoors, be sure to open the windows.

Have guests bring their own food and drinks; restrict the number of people allowed in food preparation areas; and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.

If you’re sharing food, have one person serve the food and use disposable plates and plastic utensils.

They recommend wearing a mask with two or more layers that fits snugly against the side of your face; stay at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you; wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and use hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.

It’s important to have conversations with guests ahead of time so everyone is on the same page and follows safety protocols.

CDC officials are urging people to stay home, and if you must travel, be sure to get a flu shot and follow travel restrictions before you go.

CDC officials are also asking the public to consider other alternative options to celebrate Thanksgiving, such as sharing a “virtual Thanksgiving meal” with family and friends who don’t live with you; watching TV and playing games with people in your household; or safely preparing dishes and delivering them to family and neighbors without contact by leaving them on their porch.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.

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The CDC’s latest travel guidelines, explained

The world is full of uncertainty these days. But if your family is thinking about gathering for the holidays with friends or relatives, these answers to common questions might help you stay safe.



a glass of wine: (Ross May / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)


© Provided by The LA Times
(Ross May / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

They’re from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but we’ve paraphrased them in plainer English.

  • What is the COVID-19 level in your community? The infection level will shape the overall risk level of your gathering.

  • Where are you gathering? Indoors is riskier than outdoors; indoors with poor air circulation is worst of all.

  • What’s the duration of your gathering? Long ones are riskier than short ones.

  • How many guests are you expecting? The fewer the people, the safer the event. Many jurisdictions have limits on how many people may gather in public.
  • Where are your guests from? “Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area,” the CDC says.

  • How has this group behaved in the past? The less people tend to wash their hands, wear masks and keep distance, the greater the risk.

  • How do you expect your guests to behave now? Do you want them to quarantine for 14 days before your holiday get-together? Do you want them to get COVID-tested beforehand? If you ask them to skip the hugs and wear a mask when they’re not eating or drinking, will they?

As you face these questions, don’t forget a simpler underlying concern: Is everyone healthy enough for this?

The CDC says the following people shouldn’t join any in-person holiday celebrations: those suffering symptoms of COVID-19; those who have been diagnosed with the virus and have not met criteria for when it is safe to gather with others; people awaiting COVID-19 viral test results; people who may have been exposed to someone with the virus in the last 14 days; and people at increased risk of severe illness from the disease.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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