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Disclosures: Sauber-Schatz and Walke report no relevant financial disclosures.
November 19, 2020
2 min read

CDC advises against Thanksgiving travel as US records 1 million new cases in a week


Press Conference

Disclosures: Sauber-Schatz and Walke report no relevant financial disclosures.
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The CDC strongly advised against traveling this Thanksgiving after the United States reported more than 1 million new cases of COVID-19 in the last 7 days.

“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household,” Erin K. Sauber-Schatz, PhD, MPH, from the CDC’s Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force, said during a news telebriefing on Thursday.

Airport mask
The CDC strongly recommends against travel during Thanksgiving.
Credit: Adobe Stock

Sauber-Schatz said the CDC updated tips for celebrating Thanksgiving safely that were posted earlier this month and was making a “strong recommendation” that people not travel.

“As a country we are seeing increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths because of COVID-19. We know you are as alarmed as we are of the rampant spread of COVID-19 across U.S. communities,” Henry Walke, MD, MPH, director of the CDC’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections, said during the briefing.

“With Thanksgiving approaching, our hearts and minds turn to seeing family and friends as part of one of our nation’s great traditions and we all need to consider the safest way to celebrate this holiday,” Walker said.

Sauber-Schatz clarified what constitutes a “household” in the CDC’s recommendation: If a person has not been living in the house in the 14 days before Thanksgiving, they are not part of the household. If they attend gatherings anyway, The CDC recommends that everyone wear a mask during the event.

For those who still elect to travel, the CDC said the same precautions for day-to-day living should be taken, including wearing masks in public, remaining 6 feet away from non-household members and washing hands as often as possible.

“These steps are our best defense,” Walke said.

The CDC also recommended limiting the number of people allowed in the kitchen or wherever food is being prepared and served, and said only one person should serve food. It said people should consider bringing their own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils to gatherings.

“We know that ending 2020 with a holiday spent more distant than together is not what we all want,” Walke said. “Our hope is that the recommendations posted today will help people celebrate as safely as possible.


CDC. Thanksgiving. Accessed on Nov. 19, 2020.

Press Conference