Medical groups urge Americans to scale back holiday plans amid COVID-19 surge

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Leading medical societies on Thursday urged Americans to scale back Thanksgiving gatherings because spiking coronavirus cases are overwhelming hospitals across the country.

“In the strongest possible terms, we urge you to celebrate responsibly,” the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association said in an open letter to the public.

“We are all weary and empathize with the desire to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, but given the serious risks, we underscore how important it is to wear masks, maintain physical distancing and wash your hands,” they said. 

The groups noted that COVID-19 spread has followed a predictable pattern around holidays and mass gatherings. Positive cases spiked after Memorial Day, after the Fourth of July, after Labor Day and now two weeks after Halloween. 

The statement comes the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended people avoid traveling and seeing family from outside their immediate household. 

The CDC also clarified the definition of “household” to mean people who have been living in the same home for at least 14 days before celebrations. The update was particularly aimed at college students who typically return home from campus for the holidays but risk bringing an infection with them this year. 

COVID-19 has been rapidly spreading uncontrolled across the entire country, with no end in sight. More than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. over the past seven days, the highest numbers recorded throughout the pandemic. 

The total number of people currently infected is likely far higher, with one estimate putting it at around 7 million or 1 in 50 Americans. Hospitalizations and deaths are also going up and likely to continue increasing in the coming days and weeks as more people become sick. 

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