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Here’s How You Can Stay Safe From COVID-19 This Thanksgiving

Millions of people will travel and gather for the holiday — but it's coming as Chicago and nearby areas are in the midst of a new surge of COVID-19.

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CHICAGO — Officials are urging people to be cautious as they gather for Thanksgiving this Thursday.

Millions of people in the United States are expected to travel and gather together for the holiday — but it’s coming as Chicago and nearby areas are in the midst of a new surge of COVID-19.

Local and state officials have recommended people who aren’t fully vaccinated stay home and avoid travel, while they’ve said fully vaccinated people can safely gather and enjoy the holiday.

“The risk goes down so much … we can basically have a normal Thanksgiving gathering,” Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said earlier this week. “And that’s all thanks to vaccine.”

Still, the state health department released guidance for how people can stay safe for the holiday:

In general:

  • You and your guests will have the most protection if you are all fully vaccinated and have gotten your booster shot, if eligible.
  • Stay home if you are experiencing symptoms of illness and get a COVID-19 test.
  • Consider hosting activities virtually, like through sharing traditional family recipes.
  • Carol in smaller groups outdoors.

If you’re gathering:

  • Keep indoor gatherings small. Consider wearing a well-fitted mask when indoors to prevent spread and protect people who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Use hand sanitizer after shaking hands, and wash your hands regularly.
  • Arrange chairs so people have physical distance indoors.
  • You can increase the air flow inside by opening windows and/or doors.
  • Avoid having people congregate, like in the kitchen or at a buffet.
  • If possible, plate guests’ food and serve it to them to avoid people crowding in a buffet area.
  • Clean and sanitize the kitchen, bathrooms and other areas used by guests.
  • Encourage people to get vaccinated before gathering.
  • Gathering outdoors, if weather permits, is the safest option for reducing transmission of COVID-19.
  • If gathering in an indoor, public space, wear a mask, wash your hands, keep physical distance and try to avoid crowded places.

If you’re traveling:

  • Here is the latest update on Chicago’s travel advisory.
  • Don’t travel until you are fully vaccinated, or wait until you get your booster shot if you are eligible.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated but do decide to travel, get tested one to three days before traveling and three to five days after traveling.
  • Travel during off-peak times to avoid large crowds.
  • Drive a car to reduce exposure to COVID-19.
  • If using public transportation, like a train or bus, try to travel during non-peak times. Masks are required on public transit and in transit hubs like airports and train stations.

You can read more guidance from the state here.


• In Illinois, about 7.3 million people — or 57.68 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 64,199 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 17,031,036 vaccine doses of the 20,050,445 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.6 million Chicagoans — or 60.8 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 67.8 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 5 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Nineteen Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Tuesday.

• At least 26,313 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,945 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 5,058 cases since Tuesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,784,900.

• Since Tuesday, 139,801 tests were reported statewide. In all, 38,528,321 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 3.3 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 3.3 percent Tuesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 4.1 percent. It was at 4.1 percent Tuesday.

• As of Tuesday night, 384 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 150 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, one death was reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 5,985 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than three people dying per day, down 10 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has had 614 confirmed cases reported since Tuesday. It’s had a total of 340,273 confirmed cases. An average of 584 confirmed cases are being reported per day, up 13 percent from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is up 6 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 3 percent, up from 2.7 percent the week prior.

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