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As COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations continue to accelerate in the U.S., the CDC on Thursday bluntly advised Americans not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"Amid this critical phase, the CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period," said Henry Walke, MD, COVID-19 incident manager, on a call with reporters.
Walke said all forms of travel are risky.
"What we're concerned about is not only the actual mode of travel — whether it's an airplane or bus or car — but also the transportation hubs we're concerned about, as well."
Standing in line to get on a plane, bus, or train makes it harder to keep space between yourself and other people.
With cases already climbing at alarming rates, CDC officials said they were concerned that the holidays may further drive up cases and deaths, particularly for older family members.
"The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with members of your household," said Erin Sauber-Schatz, PhD, head of the CDC's Community Interventions and critical Populations Task Force, according to The New York Times.
The agency released updated Thanksgiving guidance as well that strengthens its previous warnings about the upcoming holiday.
"Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu," the guidance says. "Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year."
If you're still considering traveling or gathering with other people, the CDC suggests answering these questions first:
Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk of getting very sick from COVID-19?
Are cases high or increasing in your community or your destination? Check the CDC's COVID Data Tracker for the latest number of cases.
Are hospitals in your community or your destination overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19? To find out, check state and local public health department websites.
Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Check state and local requirements before you travel.
During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don't live with?
Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or air, which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?
Are you traveling with people who don't live with you?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, the CDC suggests making other plans: Stay home, host a "virtual" Thanksgiving, or postpone it until another time.
The New York Times: "Covid-19 Live Updates: C.D.C. Urges Americans to Avoid Thanksgiving Travel."
CDC.gov: "Celebrating Thanksgiving."