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story.lead_photo.caption Because of the pandemic, people might want to make alternate Thanksgiving plans. The holiday might look a little different than this pre-pandemic gathering.

When the pandemic first emerged in the spring, many hoped it would be a bad memory by holiday season. That hasn't happened.

With COVID-19 still spreading, Callawegians can take measures to ensure a safe Thanksgiving.

"As a fellow Missouri citizen, with the holidays coming, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas around the corner, it's all up to us — not government, but it's up to me and you — to change the way we do Thanksgivings, if you so choose to do that, and I would recommend that," Gov. Mike Parson said during his Thursday press briefing.

Parson said his personal Thanksgiving would not look the way it has in the past out of concern for his own family.

"I suggest each and every one of you do the same thing," he said. "You know what's at risk, who's at risk and what's important."

According to data from the state COVID-19 dashboard, Callaway County has had 2,492 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Between Nov. 11 and Tuesday, there was an average of 41 new cases a day.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control makes it clear staying home is safest.

"Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19," the health organization wrote in its recently updated guidance. "Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year."

The CDC has provided a list of questions Americans should consider before traveling for Thanksgiving:

Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?

Are cases high or increasing in your community or your destination? Check the Missouri COVID dashboard or the CDC's COVID Data Tracker.

Are hospitals in your community or your destination overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19?

Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Check state and local requirements before you travel.

During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don't live with?

Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or air which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?

Are you traveling with people who don't live with you?

"If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes,' you should consider making other plans, such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying your travel," according to the CDC.

Alternative Thanksgiving plans could include a virtual gathering with attendees sharing recipes and stories, staying home and spending time playing games or watching movies with those who live in the same house and delivering dishes to friends and family without contact.

State health Director Dr. Randall Williams shared several recommendations Thursday during Parson's briefing.

"Be prepared to change your plans," Williams said.

If someone is planning on spending the holiday with others, especially those with underlying health issues who have an increased risk of serious complications, the might want to "semi-quarantine" for about five days ahead of the visit.

Travelers should wear a mask at all times and use hand sanitizer frequently.

Celebrating outside is recommended, but regardless of whether a gathering is inside or outside, people should practice social distancing and wear a mask.

Hosts might also consider limiting guests lists. Guests should be prepared to change their plans quickly if the experience any symptoms.

"The overall message is you have to be much more thoughtful than you've ever been about Thanksgiving and you've got to be willing to adapt," Williams said.

More recommendations from the CDC can be found at bit.ly/3fipc0Z.

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