The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising Americans not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday in order to help curb the coronavirus pandemic.
The CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, Dr. Henry Walke, told CNBC there is “no more important time than now for each and every American to redouble our efforts to watch our distance, wash our hands, and, most importantly, wear a mask.”
“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Walke added. “For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living.”
The coronavirus is reaching levels not seen since the spring when the world knew little about the virus and hundreds of people were dying every day. The coronavirus is now moving through rural states like a stiff wind. Iowa, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota are all running out of hospital beds, personal protective equipment, and even healthcare workers.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum fought every call for a mask mandate or restrictions since the pandemic began. Now, due to the overwhelming number of residents getting sick, Burgum has ordered healthcare workers who are infected with the virus but are asymptomatic to continue working.
According to the Great Forks Herald, the state had three chief health officers resign this summer, which “suggest a rift between the governor’s pandemic response and recommendations of the medical community.” Burgum established a mask mandate and a 10 p.m. curfew on all bars and restaurants in the state last Friday.
In Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon refused to institute restrictions and instead asked residents to be responsible, saying “it’s up to us.” Coronavirus cases during the summer stayed low, but things have changed. According to the state’s Department of Health, the number of coronavirus admissions, total hospital availability, and total ICU bed availability are all defined as “concerning.” Additionally, 12 counties in the state now have have mask mandates.
“We’re alarmed,” Walke told CNBC, adding the country has seen an “exponential increase” in cases, hospitalizations and deaths recently. “One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it.”’
Airline companies who have been in the red all year and were hoping for a rebound in demand for the holidays are now saying bookings are slowing down and cancellations are on the rise as people are staying home this year due to the pandemic.
The CDC recommends Thanksgiving celebrations be limited to those living in the same household for the 14 days before the holiday. That excludes college students returning from campus and military members on leave for the holiday.
If you cannot avoid people who have not been in the same household for two weeks, the agency recommends:
- Limiting the number of attendees, hosting the gathering outdoors if possible.
- Making sure people sit six feet away, even outdoors.
- Wearing a mask at all times except when eating or drinking.
- Avoiding pot-luck style gatherings and instead have one person serve all the food and handle all utensils.