The weather is getting crisper and the leaves are changing colors. Fall is here, and with it the holiday season.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, and infection cases rising higher now than in prior months, holidays such as Thanksgiving may look a bit different. Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, warned this week that rising case numbers statewide mean the situation will likely be even worse next week.

“If we don’t slow the spread now, we’re heading into a very unfortunate holiday season,” Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrer told county officials Tuesday.

While health officials have advised people not to gather in large groups and to avoid in-person reunions, here are a few tips from experts on how to travel and safely celebrate Thanksgiving this year.


Traveling increases the chances of contracting illnesses such as COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you do travel, the CDC recommends taking the seasonal flu shot. Long Beach recently announced it was administering the flu shot for free.

With different counties and countries often issuing different health orders, travelers should check on them first for any restrictions or advisories, the CDC said.

What the CDC recommends if families must travel is similar to what other agencies and experts have been advocating this past year, such as maintaining social distance of at least 6 feet between others and wearing face coverings in public areas.

It’s not advisable to travel if you or family members are feeling ill, and the CDC considers paying extra for trip cancellation insurance if the hotel or travel agency offers it in the event a traveling member gets sick.

What makes traveling a greater challenge for virus containment is that some people may not feel symptoms of the virus at all, but can still spread it around other communities, the CDC said.

Hosting dinner

While health experts have advised not to have gatherings with members of different households, the CDC recommends reducing gatherings to small, outdoor ones with family and friends who live in your community. The recent hourly change for daylight savings means sunset comes sooner during the fall, so hosts should plan accordingly.

Hosts should clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use, and if celebration must be indoors, make sure to open windows to create airflow, the CDC stated.

If the kitchen gets crowded, experts recommend limiting the number of people in food preparation areas and to have guests bring their own food and drink.

Attending dinner

People attending family gatherings this Thanksgiving are advised to bring their own cutlery, such as utensils, plates and cups, according to the CDC.

Wear a mask, and safely store your mask while eating and drinking. Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen. Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates and utensils.