Henry Walke said in a briefing on Thursday that there is "no more important time than now for each and every American to redouble our efforts to watch our distance, wash our hands and, most importantly, wear a mask", before advising that the "CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period". The federal agency said it was making the recommendation after many states across the country experienced a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
He said officials were alarmed "with the exponential increase in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths".
"Based on mid-October forecast models, AAA would have expected up to 50 million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving - a drop from 55 million in 2019", the group said in its annual Thanksgiving travel report.
In the telebriefing held before the guidelines were posted, Walke and Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz, who is lead of the Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force, further clarified that members of the family who were not living within the same house for the 14 days prior to the holiday were not considered part of the same household, including returning college students and military members. "There are some that will travel nonetheless, but, hopefully, they will put in place some common-sense measures to limit the damage the virus can cause".
Walke said 30-40% of the coronavirus' spread comes from people without symptoms, and the US has seen an "exponential increase" in cases, hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks. It also suggests limiting the number of people near where food is being prepared.
Shares in airlines and hotel companies have plummeted since the beginning of the outbreak as public officials have advised against unnecessary travel.
AAA expects 2.8 million travelers in Florida this Thanksgiving holiday, which is the lowest Thanksgiving travel has been since 2017.