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CDC urges Americans not to travel for Christmas

CDC urges Americans not to travel for Christmas
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday pressed Americans to not travel for Christmas amid fears that gatherings during the holiday season could ultimately spread more COVID-19 cases.

“The best thing for Americans to do in the upcoming holiday season is to stay at home and not travel,” Henry Walke, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, told reporters Wednesday. “Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are increasing, deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase.”

The CDC said in new guidance it is recommending that if people do end up traveling, they should get tested one to three days before travel and three to five days afterward. People who do not get tested should cut down on nonessential activities for 10 days after travel.

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The CDC issued similar guidance ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, noting that postponing travel plans and remaining home is the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, many Americans disobeyed the guidance and travel rates on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving reached their highest level since March.

Cindy Friedman, chief of the Travelers’ Health Branch at the CDC, expressed alarm over the travel, noting that even if a fraction of travelers had asymptomatic infections, they could have spread the virus to “hundreds of thousands” of people.

Walke added that he expected to see a rise in cases about seven to 10 days following the travel around Thanksgiving. 

The warning surrounding holiday travel comes amid an alarming surge in cases across the country, with more than 100,000 new cases being counted routinely each day. The country has had more than 13.7 million infections and more than 272,000 deaths, and experts warn the pandemic could be exacerbated in the cold winter months as social gatherings move to indoor setting where the virus can more easily spread.