US health authorities cautioned Americans on Thursday against traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday next week, as the coronavirus spreads out of control.
The recommendation was issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government’s health protection agency.
“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Henry Walke, a CDC doctor in charge of the day to day management of the agency’s pandemic response, told reporters.
“It’s not a requirement. It’s a strong recommendation.”
Walke said the CDC was “alarmed” by the recent surge in new daily cases — up more than 75 percent in 14 days — and hospitalizations and deaths (around 50 percent each).
In the past week alone there have been a million new cases of infection reported.
Thanksgiving is the busiest US holiday in terms of travel. As it falls on a Thursday many Americans take Friday off work and make a long weekend of it to go see family in other states.
Walke said coronavirus cases rose sharply in the US after long holiday weekends for Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September.
“We saw these hikes in cases and so we wanted to get out now and talk about the upcoming holidays and warn people to be safe,” he said.
This year the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to stay home and be with the people in your household, said Erin Sauber-Schatz, another CDC official, in charge of making pandemic-related recommendations.
“If people have not been actively living with you for the 14 days before you’re celebrating, they are not considered a member of your household, and therefore you need to take those extra precautions, even wearing masks within your own home,” she said.
That applies to university students coming home for the holiday, Sauber-Schatz said.