Health officials warning against holiday gatherings amid rising coronavirus cases

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With the holidays just a few weeks away and COVID-19 cases skyrocketing, many are resigning themselves to the fact that Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different.

"I don't want to bring anything with me," said Terry Rice about traveling amid the pandemic.

SEE ALSO: Philadelphia health officials recommend canceling holiday gatherings, call them 'very dangerous'
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"These are not normal times." Philadelphia health officials recommend residents cancel their planned holiday gatherings.

"It's obviously upsetting that it's not the same as old holidays will be and I like having the family gatherings and seeing everybody, but if it's what it takes to be safe and stop the spread, then that's what I want to do," said Adrianna Sfrerra.

While some are staying in and canceling the holidays altogether, others are traveling, like Jordan Lucier, who's flying back to Arizona for Thanksgiving.

"My mom, she's currently on chemotherapy, so she's also just high risk for everything, so I'm even uncomfortable with myself going back because I don't know if I'm going to bring something home and she's not going to be able to get through it," said Lucier who is visiting Bala Cynwyd from Phoenix.

SEE ALSO: CDC releases guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving holiday safely

The CDC says keeping it virtual is the best way to stop the spread. Local health experts say the cold weather will make it difficult for gatherings to stay outdoors. Officials fear patrons being forced to go indoors and increased COVID-19 cases could be the perfect recipe for significant spread.

"Inside poses more risk because it's really difficult to keep at least six-feet of separation with social distancing, so there's more of a chance. And to be honest, and forgetting COVID for a second, we are in cold and flu season," said Dr. Larry Finkelstein, PCOM professor of Family Medicine.

COVID hospitalizations are surging in Pennsylvania, increasing 139% from October 1 to October 31, according to state data.

"The concern is asymptomatic cases, who may not have any problems but could get somebody else sick who could get very ill and really inundate and overwhelm the hospitals," said Finkelstein.

It's important to keep in mind that domino effect the virus could have. Dr. Finkelstein says if one person is positive, you can get a lot of other people sick. But if your family is gathering anyways, he says wear a mask and try to keep the gathering as small as possible.

SEE ALSO: Dr. Fauci warns Thanksgiving gatherings pose high risk for COVID-19
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