The CDC Now Officially Recommends Against Traveling for Thanksgiving

The CDC Now Officially Recommends Against Traveling for Thanksgiving

by Sue Jones
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Public health authorities have been warning for months that the winter holidays will be very different this year. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically says Thanksgiving travel should be avoided due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving Day period,” Henry Walke, M.D., MPH, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said in a press conference, according to CNN. “Right now, especially as we are seeing exponential growth in cases, 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.”

The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people you already live with or virtually via video chat with others who aren’t in your household. If you’re thinking of traveling this year, there are a few questions you should ask yourself first, the CDC says in a new update. Those questions include things like:

  • Are you, someone you’ll be visiting, or someone in your household at a higher risk for developing severe COVID-19 complications?

  • Are coronavirus cases high or increasing in the location you’re coming from or going to?

  • Will you be traveling with people who don’t live with you?

  • Will you be traveling on a train, bus, or plane that would make it difficult to stay properly socially distanced from other passengers?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, the CDC recommends not traveling for Thanksgiving this year and instead making other plans.

Going to an indoor Thanksgiving gathering with people you don’t already live with—especially if you’re traveling from out of town—is one of the riskiest things you could do right now, the CDC said previously. Other high-risk activities include attending crowded parades or races (even if they’re outdoors) and shopping in crowded stores (like on Black Friday).

Instead, consider lower-risk holiday celebrations, such as having a small dinner with the people you already live with, having a virtual dinner with friends and family, watching parades or sports from home, or making traditional Thanksgiving dishes and delivering them to neighbors without contact.

If, after all that, you still decide to travel this year, it’s important to take as many safety precautions as you can to keep yourself and your community safe. First, you should check to see if there are any travel restrictions that could affect you (like a mandatory quarantine period when you arrive at your destination, for instance). You should also get your flu vaccine before you go, the CDC says, and follow the same public health strategies that we’ve been using for months now: Wear a face mask in public, stay socially distanced while traveling (at least six feet from others), and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often. The CDC also recommends bringing extra masks and hand sanitizer with you on your trip.

You may also want to get a COVID-19 test within a few days of your trip. Although a negative test might give you an extra sense of safety, it’s not a substitute for the other safety measures (a mask, social distancing, washing your hands), SELF explained previously. Plus, even the best coronavirus tests aren’t perfect. If you’re in the first few days of an infection, the test may miss you and give you a false negative, which could cause you to unknowingly spread the disease while traveling.

Thanksgiving is one of many things that’s just going to have to be different this year. It might be devastating to have to miss this chance to spend valuable time with your loved ones, but skipping the big dinner this year is in the interest of public health and safety—not just your own. Making these sacrifices now will help prevent illnesses, hospitalizations, and even deaths down the line.


  • Dr. Fauci Has Some Stern Warnings About Thanksgiving Gatherings This Year

  • These Are the 5 Riskiest Thanksgiving Activities Amid COVID-19, According to the CDC

  • 5 Essential Thanksgiving Safety Reminders Doctors Want You to Remember

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