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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

NC, SC Officials Urge Residents To Rethink Thanksgiving Gatherings As COVID-19 Cases Climb

Young man at a free COVID-19 testing event at Mecklenburg County's Valerie C. Woodard Center on June 27, 2020.
Laura Brache

Officials in North Carolina on Friday urged residents to avoid getting together with people they don’t live with this Thanksgiving. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against holiday travel as COVID-19 continues to surge across the state and country.

“The risk at this time is just too great,” Mecklenburg County Deputy Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington said at a press conference Friday.

Washington asked everyone in the county to avoid both traveling and large Thanksgiving gatherings, encouraging connecting with family members virtually, instead. He also advised against in-person Black Friday shopping.

“The safest place is at home with those within your household,” Washington said.

Washington said Charlotte-Mecklenburg police won’t be randomly knocking on residents’ doors, but he said they will continue to respond to complaint calls. He also said police will be particularly focused on businesses where people may get together in large numbers.

North Carolina’s mass gathering limit is 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors under the latest executive order. Restaurants and most other businesses are still permitted to operate at limited capacity.

Contact tracers in Mecklenburg County are grappling with a recent increase in cases as well as cases tied to “at least 31 Halloween gatherings,” Washington said. Officials in the county discouraged getting together for Halloween ahead of the holiday.

State officials have also repeatedly urged residents to modify their Thanksgiving plans to avoid spreading COVID-19. Interim guidance released by the state health agency encouraged residents to host gatherings outdoors if possible, and to wear a mask and stay six feet apart from guests they do not live with.

“Reduce the invite list. Space out your tables. Get a COVID test before the event. Or — better yet — connect virtually,” Gov. Roy Cooper said at a press conference last week.

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster urged residents to take precautions over the holiday and to limit the size of family gatherings.

“Be like the original Thanksgiving and do it outside,” McMaster said at a press conference Thursday. “If the weather is pretty, do everything you can outside. The more outside you can be, the better we can all be.”

These recommendations came as COVID-19 cases hit new records across the U.S. The country is close to recording 200,000 new cases a day and set a hospitalization record, The New York Times reported Friday.

North Carolina reported 4,296 new cases Thursday — the highest single-day increase to date. Last week, the state surpassed 3,000 new reported daily cases for the first time. South Carolina reported 1,479 new COVID-19 cases on Friday.

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