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CDC discourages in-person Thanksgiving

By Vicky O. Misa | Vicky.misa@news-star.com | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star
Thanksgiving dinner table.

Due to the ongoing pandemic and recent spikes on COVID-19 cases across the country, traveling to see friends and family this Thanksgiving will be dramatically different.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending staying at home and not gathering to celebrate the holiday.

“Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu,” the website, at cdc.gov, reads. “More than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States over the last seven days.”

If the family does decide to make a trip, some things should be kept in mind.

The CDC proposes consideration of some risks before deciding to travel:

• Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?

• Are cases high or increasing in your community or your destination? Check CDC’s COVID Data Tracker for the latest number of cases.

• Are hospitals in your community or your destination overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19? To find out, check state and local public health department websites.

• Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Check state and local requirements before you travel.

• During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don’t live with?

• Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or air which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?

• Are you traveling with people who don’t live with you?

If yes is the answer to any of the questions, the CDC encourages making other plans — like a virtual gathering or postponement.

Social distancing, frequent hand-washing and mask-wearing is still encouraged — and required in certain cities and states, as well as other restrictions.

Car travel is projected to account for 95 percent of all holiday travel this year, according to a report by AAA. What was once one of the busiest weeks for airports, Thanksgiving air travel is anticipated to be down nearly half of prior years to 2.4 million travelers.

Although more people will be staying at home, the study still projects 47.8 million people will be driving to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. 

Thanksgiving Car Travel Checklist

Some recommended tips to ensure a safe, comfortable and problem-free road trip are:

• Wipe it Down — Carry a packet of disinfecting wipes and frequently clean common touch points such as the steering wheel, door handles, seat belts and buckles, keys and fobs, window button, radio and climate control buttons, and more. According to a survey by CarRentals.com, there are roughly 700 different strains of bacteria living in the average vehicle and the average steering wheel is four times dirtier than a public toilet seat.

• Create a Safety Kit — Pack face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health. Bring water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop during your trip.

• Sanitizer: Don’t Leave Home Without It — Carry a bottle of hand sanitizer and use it every time you get in the car. This is an especially important practice after stopping for a bathroom break or touching a pump handle and buttons at a gas station.

• Know Before Going — Research the state and local regulations along the route and at the planned destination to learn about any travel restrictions that may be in place.

• Car Care — Before any long road trip, it is important to check each of the car’s vital engine fluids such as transmission, coolants, braking and steering on a regular basis. Most critical is to have the engine’s oil replaced every 3,000 miles. Also check the vehicle’s battery (most have a lifespan of 4-5 years), air filter (should be changed every 15,000 miles) and make sure the tires are properly inflated.