CDC tells Americans to not travel for Thanksgiving amid surge in Covid cases

'We're seeing exponential growth in cases,' CDC Covid-19 incident manager Dr Henry Walke says

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Thursday 19 November 2020 21:12
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The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised Americans to not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday amid a surge in coronavirus cases. 

"We're seeing exponential growth in cases," CDC Covid-19 incident manager Dr Henry Walke said. "The opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time."

“We’re alarmed,” he added, referencing the increase in cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. “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.”

Already the public health agency recommended for people to only celebrate the holiday within their household or virtually to prevent a spread of the novel virus in communities. 

But now the CDC has taken the health guidance one step further by actively advising against any travel during the holiday. 

Instead of travelling, the recommendations advised for people to just celebrate the holiday within the same household, which was defined as anyone who has been in the same home within the last 14 days. Mr Walke said the definition of household would not include college students wishing to return home for the holiday. 

If Americans choose to travel, the CDC recommends they should do so as safely as possible by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, including while indoor with others who are outside their own household. 

Airlines including Southwest, United Airlines, and American Airlines all reported a spike in flight cancellations in the last week over the holiday week. 

The updated CDC guidance, which are “strong recommendations” rather than a mandate, comes at a time when the US has hit multiple grim milestones within the last week. 

On Wednesday, the US surpassed more than 250,000 deaths from the novel virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country also recorded 1m new coronavirus cases last week alone, and there are now over 11.5 million reported cases of Covid-19. 

States across the country have updated their own coronavirus guidelines and restrictions amid the surge of cases, as leaders warn hospitals could be overrun if the proper mitigation steps are not taken. In Oregon, indoor gatherings are limited to just six people or fewer. Other states like New York and New Jersey have returned to capping indoor gatherings at a maximum of 10 people. 

Public health officials have urged people to cancel their Thanksgiving plans and take them virtual to stop another surge from happening after the holiday. 

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