The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday advised Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving and to limit gatherings to people within the same household as coronavirus cases continue to surge.
The agency’s guidance is at odds with recent messaging from the White House, including fierce criticism of state-level mitigation efforts from President Donald Trump’s press secretary. But it lines up with a growing number of new state Covid-19 restrictions that are being imposed in response to record numbers of new cases and more than 250,000 U.S. deaths.
“We are issuing strong recommendations to not travel over the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Erin Sauber-Schatz, the lead of the CDC’s Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force.
The agency also urged Americans to avoid mingling with people who haven’t resided in their same household in the past 14 days. That could include college students returning home for the holidays.
The CDC recommended wearing masks, observing social distancing and having a single person serve food at gatherings, if possible, while making guests use separate bathrooms.
The background: The new guidance comes as the U.S. case count passed 11 million this week. CDC officials said they are alarmed by the escalating cases and hospitalizations and worry things could get worse during the holiday season as more people move about, despite federal and state recommendations.
The guidance also comes one day after White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called similar recommendations made by a number of states “Orwellian.”
Oregon, Minnesota and a number of other states have in recent days reinstated lockdowns and advised their residents to not travel or gather for Thanksgiving.
“We know you are as alarmed as we are. Covid-19 is quite a formidable foe,” Henry Walke, CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager said on a call with reporters. “We must unite in our efforts against this virus. There’s no more important time than now to redouble our efforts.”
The new guidelines were announced during the agency’s first press briefing since October. CDC Director Robert Redfield did not participate in the call.
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