CDC: Americans Should Avoid Traveling for Thanksgiving This Year

It's not a mandate, but a "strong recommendation."

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention held a press briefing Thursday morning to offer safety recommendations as we near the holidays. The main takeaway: Americans should stay put for Thanksgiving.

"With Thanksgiving approaching, our hearts and minds turn to seeing families and friends as one of our nation's great traditions, and we all need to consider the safest way to celebrate this holiday," said Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, on the call. "Amidst this critical phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period."

The push to keep Americans home comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationwide. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the US reported 170,161 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday alone.

While Thanksgiving week is likely to remain one of the busiest travel periods since March, at least one airline has alluded to travelers getting cold feet ahead of the holiday. In a report filed on Thursday morning, United Airlines wrote, "In the last week, ending November 18, 2020, there has been a deceleration in system bookings and an uptick in cancellations as a result of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases."

Air travel isn't the only thing covered by the CDC's advisory. Any confined space where physical distancing is not guaranteed or ventilation is limited poses a risk—that means buses, trains, and car rides with people from other households.

"We know that ending 2020 with a holiday season spent more distant than together is not what we all want. Our hope is that the recommendations posted online today can help people celebrate as safely as possible," Walke said. "All Americans want to do the right thing to protect their families, even when there are hard decisions to be made."

For people who decide to move forward with holiday plans, the CDC posted the following considerations:

  • Check the COVID-19 infection rates in areas where attendees live to determine if it's safe to gather.
  • Limit the number of attendees and stay 6 feet away from people outside of your household.
  • Host the gathering outdoors if the weather allows. If you're hosting indoors, open windows or run central air/heat to keep air circulating. In either case, wear masks when you aren't eating or drinking.
  • Avoid singing and shouting.
  • Treat pets like people and limit their interactions to people from their households.
  • Don't touch what you don't need to touch, and sanitize high-traffic surfaces frequently.

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Kyler Alvord is a news writer at Thrillist. Find him on Twitter and Instagram. Or don't. It's really up to you.