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LA County Public Health: Go Ahead And Gather With Friends, Family For Thanksgiving

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Thanksgiving is less than a week away, so the holidays are right around the corner – is it safe to get together with family and friends?

Now that the danger of post-Halloween surge has largely passed, Los Angeles County Public Health officials say they are optimistic people can gather safely, especially with so many people being vaccinated and still taking precautions.

"I share sort of the good news about Halloween, because now we know we can have celebrations, do them with some safety modifications, still everyone enjoy themselves, and not have it lead to a significant surge. And that's what we're hoping will happen over Thanksgiving," Ferrer said at the county's COVID-19 briefing Thursday.

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday As Coronavirus Cases Surge
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 26: The Broughton family prays together during a gathering on November 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Families have adjusted plans under CDC guidelines. "Not many people made it to Thanksgiving this year. I respect the CDC guidelines, and we have been following them with our own family practices. All year we have been fighting, social distancing, wearing masks and isolating. I wanted my family to feel rewarded for their efforts and rejoice together during this Thanksgiving - to remember that we should be in Thanksgiving everyday," said Dr. Christopher Broughton. Due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, as of November 21, 2020, the state of California has required that all non-essential work and activities stop between 10PM and 5AM in counties across the state. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Ferrer stressed that people who are not vaccinated have a higher risk of infection, hospitalization, and death. Current figures show unvaccinated people are nine times more likely to get infected and 67 times more likely to be hospitalized, she said.

Hospitalizations across California have fallen by about half since a summer peak at the end of August. But they have started creeping up in some areas, particularly the Central Valley and portions of Southern California including Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties where vaccination rates aren't as high.

Last year's holiday season, before vaccines were widely available, led to a devastating winter surge that overwhelmed hospitals across the country. Some portions of the country where the cooler weather pushed people indoors earlier in the fall are already seeing a wave of patients hospital officials say they haven't seen in months.

However, this year shouldn't see the same overwhelming numbers of cases due to large numbers of people having been vaccinated and the availability of boosters for extra protection for those who were among the first to get their shots.

But for people who want to remain cautious, public health officials say that outdoor gatherings are the safest option and masks should be worn if gathering indoors with both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

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