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5 tips to keep your family safe from COVID-19 on Thanksgiving

From asking guests to wear masks or requiring vaccinations, experts say it's OK to have ground rules when it comes to protecting your family from COVID-19.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thanksgiving is just a week away and COVID-19 is still a part of our daily lives, meaning it's important to take steps to keep your loved ones safe this holiday season. 

Health experts have issued guidance for the holidays, including mask recommendations and the urging of vaccinations for anyone who hasn't yet gotten the shot. That includes children, who are now eligible for Pfizer's two-dose vaccine. 

“We are seeing a decrease overall over the last several weeks in our community, certainly at least from my side of things, there’s a real anxiety around that this could potentially lead to an increase in the next couple of months as we see more gatherings," Dr. Lewis McCurdy with Atrium Health said.

Here are five things you can do to protect your family this Thanksgiving. 

1. Mask Up!

Mecklenburg County's COVID-19 positivity rate is still above 5%, meaning the indoor mask mandate isn't going away just yet. The county would need to see seven consecutive days below 5% for it to be removed. 

The CDC also recommends masking, especially if you're indoors or traveling to an area where transmission rates are high. 

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2. Get Vaccinated

Health Director Gibbie Harris says enough people aren't vaccinated yet, despite almost everyone being eligible for the vaccine. 

"We need people, if they're eligible, to get vaccinated," Harris said during a county commissioners meeting. "We need people to get their kids vaccinated. We need those who are eligible for boosters to get vaccinated."

Dr. Joseph Khabbaza, a pulmonologist with the Cleveland Clinic, says higher vaccination rates are making travel safer, too. 

"We just know that the risks are lower now with a bigger chunk of the population vaccinated," Khabbaza said. "So any kind of travel will do and is safer than it was a year ago." 

3. Bring The Party Outdoors

This is something the CDC And Mecklenburg County leaders are recommending. COVID-19 is less likely to spread outdoors. 

4. Make Rules

The CDC says this could be especially helpful if you're gathering with people from multiple households. Put things in place, like wearing masks or avoiding crowded spaces before your trip. 

Harris says if you are putting in COVID-19 rules for your home, you should communicate those ahead of time. 

"If you have specific ground rules that you want people to take when they're coming to your home, please communicate that in advance," Harris said. "It'll make it much easier for the folks that are coming in."

5. Get Tested

If you're traveling, Harris says you should get a COVID-19 test before your trip and a few days after you get home. That way you're not unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to friends and family. 

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