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Active COVID-19 cases rise in the Mid-South ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 5:08 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Analysts predict Thanksgiving holiday travel will come close to 2019 levels this year.

It’s another sign people are eager to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror and gather with loved ones again.

But infections are rising in many parts of the country, including the Mid-South. Data from the Tennessee Department of Health show active COVID-19 cases in the state increased 20 percent in the last week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says community transmission, the rate at which the virus spreads from person to person, is “high” in Tennessee and Arkansas, and “substantial” in Mississippi.

“Certainly, it’s a little distressing that the numbers are creeping up,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Steve Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis.

Threlkeld says your risk of contracting COVID-19 over the Thanksgiving holiday depends on who you plan to gather with.

“I think a lot of people, including Anthony Fauci and others have said that if you’re getting together with all vaccinated members of a friends and family group, you’re probably fine. The risk of your passaging the virus through your group is extremely low,” Threlkeld said.

He says there’s another group of people more at risk this holiday, including the elderly and immunosuppressed people.

Threlkeld says it will take extra effort to protect them. He says while opening the windows may not be possible with the colder weather, you could consider an alternative.

“Ventilation is key, and we can utilize that in other ways,” said Threlkeld. “If you have a group of several unvaccinated people in a large group, you might actually put them in a different room from the grandparents and that sort who would be more vulnerable.”

He says also consider asking unvaccinated family members to wear a mask around those most vulnerable, and if time permits, consider getting tested before your gathering.

Experts say you’ll also want to consider getting tested after returning home from Thanksgiving.

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