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CDC urges Americans to stay home for Thanksgiving; masks and social distancing will be key to those who gather anyway

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- This Thanksgiving, gathering with those outside your household could have deadly consequences. The CDC is recommending Americans to stay home and celebrate the holiday only with those in the same household.

One of the biggest risks about the holiday is that masks must be removed in order to eat. Plus, health experts say many individuals sitting at the same table will not be six feet apart.

For those planning to gather with others for the holiday regardless, there are some safety tips to consider. Health experts encourage individuals to wear a mask before and after eating and ensure social distancing while sitting down for a Thanksgiving meal. Dr. Armando Meza, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, says eating outdoors or in an area with better ventilation can also help.

Dr. Meza also urged people to consider shared surfaces, such as silverware used for serving. The CDC recommends using disposable containers and utensils and even advises individuals bring their own food.

"There are people who will be able to transmit SARS-CoV-2 before they have the symptoms or furthermore, people who have never had symptoms will still be able to infect other individuals," Dr. Meza said. "Anything that you can do, the protection of wearing face masks, which may not be a 100%, but it's very effective to minimize the risk."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has warned that many may let their guards down around friends and family who seem otherwise healthy. The governor said many coronavirus cases in the state can be linked to such interactions.

"What happens with gatherings, with events, is that you get out of that circle of people that you normally interact with," Dr. Meza said. "So now what you're doing is you are mixing up someone else's circle with yours and the exposure is going to be most of the times unknown."

Health experts also warn a negative COVID test does not necessarily mean an individual is not infected. It can take time before a new infection shows up on a test.

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Madeline Ottilie

Madeline Ottilie is a reporter on Good Morning El Paso and co-anchors ABC-7 at noon.

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