Family Thanksgiving Dilemma: Whether To Travel After CDC Warns Not To With COVID-19 cases soaring across the country, many American are changing their Thanksgiving travel plans. Some are making it a virtual event while others are cancelling it this year.
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Family Thanksgiving Dilemma: Whether To Travel After CDC Warns Not To

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Family Thanksgiving Dilemma: Whether To Travel After CDC Warns Not To

Family Thanksgiving Dilemma: Whether To Travel After CDC Warns Not To

Family Thanksgiving Dilemma: Whether To Travel After CDC Warns Not To

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With COVID-19 cases soaring across the country, many American are changing their Thanksgiving travel plans. Some are making it a virtual event while others are cancelling it this year.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made its position clear. They are urging people to stay home and not travel for Thanksgiving. As Carter Barrett of member station WFYI in Indianapolis reports, this advice is posing a significant dilemma for families.

CARTER BARRETT, BYLINE: Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, we're more than eight months into the pandemic. People are both eager and anxious about connecting with family.

KURT BEARD: Our current plan is we're just going to have some kind of a video chat dinner and then a card and dice game.

BARRETT: That's Kurt Beard, who lives outside of Indianapolis. Craving face-to-face contact, he originally planned to meet family in Ohio for an outdoor hike. But as cases soar, he's changed his mind. Still, he says he's conflicted.

BEARD: I think a great term for the emotion - you know, because it's that decision of, do you just not get to see Grandma and Grandpa until this is all over? You know, do my parents want to risk getting sick if it means seeing their grandkids?

BARRETT: There's no way to know for sure how many people will take the CDC's advice this week. It was initially predicted that airline travel could be down nearly 90%. But Sunday marked the busiest day for airlines since the start of the pandemic. Still, many people are really struggling with this decision. Andrea Janota is a public health expert at the Indianapolis campus of Indiana University.

ANDREA JANOTA: We highly recommend enjoying Thanksgiving with people who live in your household. We see that the most transmission happens when we have mixing of households.

BARRETT: Public health officials have warned more transmission is happening in smaller social gatherings, like dinner parties. CDC's Dr. Henry Walke coordinates the pandemic response for the CDC. He says the stakes are high.

HENRY WALKE: I think from an individual household level, what's at stake is basically the increased chance of, you know, one of your loved ones becoming sick and then being hospitalized and dying.

BARRETT: Vincent Bryant lives in Columbus, Ohio. He says he's gone back-and-forth on whether to visit his 74-year-old mom this Thanksgiving.

VINCENT BRYANT: But again, there's that thinking that, like - that you're just sort of leaving her there. I mean, I think everybody, as their parents age, considers that aspect of things. But so she's kind of isolated, which is, on the one hand, good and, on the other hand, a little concerning.

BARRETT: It'd be just the two of them this Thanksgiving. Bryant says they'll discuss it during one of their online bridge games. He says if she's OK with it, he is, too. But Courtney Taylor has already decided to skip her large family gathering in Illinois, in part because she's pregnant.

COURTNEY TAYLOR: It's kind of like, you know what the right thing to do is, and it's not go. But it's so tempting to want to spend time with your family that you haven't seen in such a long time. So it's just kind of that dilemma that you're facing.

BARRETT: But Taylor says they're still going to try and make the best of it.

TAYLOR: Maybe we kind of do our own tradition, you know, and kind of make up our own recipes. And Thanksgiving, a lot of times, is centered around, you know, food. And we've made a Pinterest board of all the Thanksgiving food that we want to make and all the sides, and we're going to kind of go big with our own Thanksgiving and eat leftovers for however long it takes (laughter).

BARRETT: For NPR News, I'm Carter Barrett in Indianapolis.

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