CDC releases Thanksgiving guidelines amid COVID-19 pandemic

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its guidance on how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving amid the coronavirus pandemic — recommending that gatherings remain small and bargain-hunters stick to online shopping.

The federal health agency advised that the safest way to celebrate Turkey Day would be to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel.

“Thanksgiving is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19,” the CDC posted on its website.

“Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.”

The agency then ranked a series of holiday activities from low-risk to higher-risk.

Low-risk Thanksgiving activities include:

  • Having a small dinner with only the people who live in your household
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

Moderate-risk activities include:

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Attending a small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place

The CDC urged Americans to avoid higher-risk activities like Black Friday shopping at stores or attending parades.

The higher-risk activities for the holiday include:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which the agency says can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household

COVID-19 has so far infected more than 7.1 million Americans and killed more than 204,700 people nationwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.