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Doctor-recommended tips for a safe Thanksgiving

Families are getting ready to gather around the table to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner. What are the safest ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

TAMPA, Fla. — With Thanksgiving in less than a week, people all over are either expecting company or traveling to spend the holiday with loved ones. 

In Florida, the state health department reports 68 percent of Floridians are vaccinated, meaning many will be around family or friends who have not yet been immunized against COVID-19.

Dr. Michael Teng, the dean of USF's College of Internal Medicine, says the best way to be safe is to get vaccinated, even if you won't be fully vaccinated in time for the holiday.

"Now is better because that'll prepare you for Christmas," Teng said.

If you aren't vaccinated or have family and friends who aren't, Teng said the more precautionary steps you take, the better you'll be for it. 

"Spacing is important, the time you have your mask off is important," Teng explains. "The shorter you have your mask off the better. And ventilation, if you can do it outside..."

You can now buy at-home COVID-19 tests at most major pharmacies. Teng recommends testing before and after you visit with family to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help catch it early if someone is infected. 

Tampa International Airport (TPA) said Sunday is the biggest travel day for Thanksgiving. The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates more than 53.4 million people will travel for Thanksgiving this year, which is 13 percent more from 2020. 

Experts expect to see another COVID-19 surge following the Thanksgiving holiday, but hope hospitalization will not be as severe with more people vaccinated.