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Features & Columns

With COVID-19 Killing 1 Person Every Minute, CDC Urges No Thanksgiving Travel

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With COVID-19 Killing 1 Person Every Minute, CDC Urges No Thanksgiving Travel

2020-11-20 17:13:14

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Thanksgiving dinner (Image source: Public domain)

The coronavirus is experiencing its biggest surge so far, and it couldn't come at a worse time. With Thanksgiving less than a week away, Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a rate of one every minute. In light of the surge, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending that no one travel for the holiday weekend.

It seems every day the United States is hitting a new record for the number of new cases or the number of deaths in a day. On November 17, 1,707 Americans died from the virus. Following this rate, researchers at John Hopkins University determined that one American is dying every minute. On November 13, more than 170,000 new cases were recorded.

This is by far the worst month for the virus since the beginning of the year. So far in the month of November, there have been 11.5 million confirmed cases and more than 250,000 deaths. These stats make up heavy chunks of the worldwide stats, with 56.4 million new cases and 1.3 million deaths. Researchers believe it's possible the U.S. could see 350,000 deaths by March.

The virus has affected Black Americans more than other populations. The APM Research Lab determined that the death rate of Black Americans is twice that of white Americans. Going further, one in 1,000 Black Americans have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the virus.

It's the perfect time for the news that two vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have announced high percentage efficacy and that they will be ready soon. Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization on Friday, with the expectation that Moderna will be doing the same about a week later.

"The available vaccine doses are just too small to ensure that we could make a significant difference to the society right away," said BioNTech CEO Dr. Ugur Sahin, whose company is working alongside Pfizer. "We might be able to get control of this pandemic situation late summer 2021."

It definitely won't be soon enough for Thanksgiving next week. The CDC, in its first briefing since August, is recommending Americans stay home for Thanksgiving because of the pandemic. The agency believes traveling to be with family and friends is too risky at this time, with an "exponential increase" in the rate of the disease.

"One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it," said the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, Dr. Henry Walke. "From an individual household level, what's at stake is basically increased chance of one of your loved ones becoming sick and then hospitalized and dying."

The CDC also issued guidelines for the best way to celebrate on Thanksgiving while remaining safe. The first thing on the list is to check the infection rates for the location where you plan on celebrating, as well as the rates for the locations where the other people attending live.

You should also limit the number of people who don't live with you that will attend. Those who do attend should social distance and avoid handshakes, hugs, etc.

If possible, the gathering should be held outdoors rather than indoors. Regardless of outdoors or indoors, guests should be required to wear masks when they're not eating or drinking.

It should also not be in a crowded, poorly ventilated space. You can increase ventilation by opening windows and doors where and when possible considering the weather or put central air or the heat on continuous circulation.

It's best if people not sing loudly or play loud music that would force them to shout to be heard. 

"Our hope is that the recommendations posted online today can help people celebrate as safely as possible  all Americans want to do the right things to protect our families, even when there are hard decisions to be made," explained Walke.

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