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Skip Thanksgiving travel this year, say medical experts

The Salt Lake International Airport saw plenty of passengers the weekend before Thanksgiving, but not as many as usual. (KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — With new US coronavirus cases approaching 200,000 a day and daily hospitalizations topping 80,000, medical experts are pleading with citizens to celebrate Thanksgiving virtually with family and skip plans to travel to attend in-person gatherings. 

With bodies piling up in El Paso, Texas, the state called in the National Guard to help the morgues.

“Some people have said gather at Thanksgiving and regather for your funeral on New Year’s Day,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health. “And that’s a bleak way to put it. But at this point, we really have to be honest,” according to KUER.

Still more than 1 million travelers passed through US airports on Sunday — only the second time since March that that many passengers were screened at airports, but it’s still down about 45% from the number of Thanksgiving Day airport travelers on the same day last year, according to the TSA.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, said he understands that many Americans are experiencing “Covid fatigue” but traveling over the holidays and ignoring public health guidelines are “going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now,” he said during an interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” according to The Washington Post.

Meanwhile in Utah

Dr. Emily Spivak, associate professor of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah, urges residents to skip any travel or gathering plans for Thanksgiving that involve people from outside your immediate household. That advice comes as Utah is monitoring a seven-day rolling average positivity rate of just below 25%.

“By household, we mean people who you sleep under the same roof with,” said Spivak. 

Under that definition, children coming home from college do not make up your immediate household. 

Spivak suggested sharing Thanksgiving cooking preparation and/or dining virtually on Zoom or Google Duo.

She advised continue to wear masks inside and outside, and if you plan to attend a real in-person gathering, keep it to fewer than 10 people. She said when you remove your mask to eat, pay attention to the proper distance between guests.