Medical officials have tips for healthy Thanksgiving, CDC discourages travel

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Alabama is averaging nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 cases a day over the past two weeks.

And the current wave of the virus is hitting just as millions of Americans are planning to gather for Thanksgiving.

AAA says travel will be down this year — with a bit less than 50 million people taking a road trip and more than 2 million people flying.

That’s still millions of people making their way across the country to see loved ones.

The CDC on Thursday recommended against travel for the holiday. And Huntsville Hospital today reported that systemwide it now has its highest number of COVID-19 patients — 235 — since the pandemic was declared in March.

Alex Azar, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services, said this week that a vaccine represents a light at the end of the tunnel, but this year, a small family Thanksgiving is the best plan.

“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people you live with and through virtual celebrations,” Azar said. “Gathering indoors with people who aren’t members of your household is a higher risk activity for spreading the virus.”

Dr. Karen Landers, of the Alabama Department of Public Health, offered some recommendations for family gatherings for this unusual Thanksgiving.

“Small groups, people that you are normally around,” Landers said. “Preferably your household would be the first that I would say.”

She advises that people take advantage of the expected warmer weather.

“If you’re going to have anyone together, then outside would be preferable to inside. Again, weather permitting.”

Landers also suggested doing away with the usual bustle in the kitchen.

“In food preparation it would be best to not have people all in one particular spot, going down the buffet and utilizing the same servingware,” she said. Again, perhaps even pre-plating food. Have one person in charge of plating the food.”

And, Landers said, pay attention to your own health and that of your loved ones.

“The final thing I would say, which really could be at the top of my list would be that — if you are sick, or if you have symptoms, then do not go to a gathering, do not get together with your family.”

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