WACO, TX — With more than one million COVID-19 cases reported in the past seven days, the CDC is recommending Americans stay home this Thanksgiving and celebrate with the people you live with rather than traveling to other festivities.
According to the CDC, travel may increase a person's chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.
It's a message many McLennan County residents are taking to heart.
"Normally we would have family over or travel," Ben Raley said. "This year we're going to stay home and eat."
For other McLennan County residents, Thanksgiving plans for this year have been scrapped altogether.
"No, no plans," said Kayla Lee.
Lee said the distance from family members ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday weighs heavy.
"The virus has affected my mom. I haven't seen her in a year," she said.
It's a tough reality, and a set of recommendations public health officials have reminded residence about this holiday season.
"It's a difficult recommendation to give because we all do miss our families," Kelly Craine of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District said.
While travel is discouraged, some Americans will still travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. The CDC and public health officials are encouraging those who do to engage in a 14 day quarantine period before leaving.
"We're running out of time on that, but you should still do that," Craine said. "Should still maintain that idea of "I'm going to see someone and I need to isolated myself.""
If you are attending a Thanksgiving gathering, the CDC recommends you take these precautions.
- Bring your own food, drink, plates, cups, and utensils.
- Wear a mask, and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
- Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen
- Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.
Craine says it's also important people maintain that six-feet of separation at Thanksgiving, wash their hands, and wear a mask.
"Of course, you know, it seems silly that you would think about wearing a mask with your family because these are the people you love and protect," she said. "But the mask is essential because it protects all of you."
If you host a Thanksgiving gathering, the CDC recommends you take steps such as limit the number of guests, open your windows if your celebrating indoors, and if sharing food to only have one person serving, using single-use options like plastic utensils.
Even after all that, Craine says if you did end up attending or hosting people for Thanksgiving, you should isolate the following day.
"Absolutely, these are guidelines to place upon yourself," she said. "You know if you've just spent time with people, and don't know who they've just spent time with, you should limit your activities."
Of course, the best way to avoid adding these precautions to your Thanksgiving is to stay home and celebrate with only those in your home. It's a short term sacrifice to ensure this year's holiday is nothing like next years, says Craine.
"We're sacrificing this moment, this day," she said. "To have future Thanksgiving with our loved ones."
If considering traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, the CDC has a detailed checklist of questions you should ask yourself before making that decision. You can view that list in its entirety here.
If you do ultimately decide to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday , the CDC encourages you to check for any potential travel restrictions at your destination, get your flu shot ahead of time, and to engage in measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as wearing a face covering and social distancing.