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Medical groups urge holiday precautions amid pandemic

Associations urge Americans to celebrate responsibly.

As Florida and the rest of the country see a spike in COVID-19 cases, calls to stay put during the holidays to help prevent the spread of the virus continue to increase.

The American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association issued a letter Thursday noting that the surge is affecting already-overburdened health systems and ultimately will “consume capacity” and could reduce the availability of care in some areas.

“In the strongest possible terms, we urge you to celebrate responsibly,” the letter said. “We are all weary and empathize with the desire to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, but given the serious risks, we underscore how important it is to wear masks, maintain physical distancing and wash your hands.

“Following these science-based, common-sense measures is the best way to prevent our health care systems and dedicated health care professionals from being overwhelmed by critically ill patients. We must protect the doctors, nurses and other caregivers who have tirelessly battled this virus for months. You can do your part to ensure they can continue to care for you and your loved ones.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday updated its holiday guidelines to try to dissuade people from traveling, noting that more than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the country over the past seven days.

“As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” the CDC said. “Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.”

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health issued holiday guidelines Thursday but did not discourage travel. Instead, the department’s guidelines recommended that people who have traveled from other areas “distance  themselves from people who are 65 or older and people of any age who have underlying health issues such as lung or heart disease.”

The guidelines recommend that sick people don’t travel and that people who travel by plane wear masks and social distance as much as possible. The guidelines also included fire and injury prevention tips and encouraged healthy habits, including exercise for adults and children and tips on healthy eating.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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