Vermont is the latest state to officially dissuade residents from hosting or attending large Thanksgiving gatherings this year as cases of the COVID-19 pandemic rise around the U.S.
“The data and the trends of the past few weeks are sending a clear message that we need to up our game in order to protect ourselves and our communities and prevent large-spread infections,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said during a government briefing on Friday, The Associated Press reported.
The Health Commissioner urged the state to refrain from traveling for Thanksgiving and to limit gathering size to no more than 10 people. Those who do decide to host a holiday event are urged to wear face masks and maintain a six-foot social distance between guests.
“I am strongly urging people to lay low this season and forego nonessential travel,” Levine said. He also reiterated that even small events like barbeques, baby showers, sleepover and dinner parties have led to the spread of COVID-19 in Vermont.
Gov. Phil Scott also urged Vermonters to stay home when possible and to consider a COVID-19 test if they recently attended a gathering.
“I know this is difficult news, especially around the holidays,” he said. “But by being smart about gatherings and travel now, we can keep schools and our economy open, and we will get through this pandemic faster and on better footing than just about any other state.”
The Vermont Department of Health reported 43 new cases on Sunday. Over the past seven days, the number of cases has risen 0.7 percent. Two people are currently hospitalized for the virus. Since the start of the pandemic this year, 59 people have died of COVID-19 in Vermont out of a statewide total of 2,392 confirmed cases.
New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio has also urged New Yorkers not to travel out-of-state this holiday season, saying that by traveling “unfortunately, you could be putting yourself and your family in danger and also the risk of bringing the disease back here.”
The U.S. reported 100,762 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the fifth-highest day on record anywhere in the world since the pandemic began.