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Central Georgia's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports, and more | Macon, Georgia | 13WMAZ.com

'Family gatherings are absolutely feeding the spread': Medical leaders warn of spike if CDC guidelines aren't followed for Thanksgiving

Coliseum Medical Centers says cases have gone down, but that could change if guidelines are followed.

MACON, Ga. — People are getting ready for Thanksgiving or planning a trip to see family and friends, but health officials are warning people to stay safe. They are warning Central Georgians to stay home to prevent them from seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

You might be welcoming guests to your home Thursday for Thanksgiving who are traveling from out of town, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking you to only celebrate with people you live with. Health officials say not following this recommendation could cause us to see another spike in COVID-19 cases.

"It is really hard watching people suffer and be sick and sometimes die," infectious disease specialist at Coliseum Medical Centers Dr. Jennifer Hoffman.

In August, Coliseum's two hospitals in Macon peaked with at least 70 COVID-19 patients, according to a spokeswoman. 

"It was hard, and I bet everyone would say that, so we had a lot of different guidance that came out and we had a lot of different staff that became tired," Director of Infection Prevention at Coliseum Medical Centers Brandi Jones said. 

Currently, the number of COVID-19 patients is down to 19, but with cases climbing nationally and Thanksgiving on the way, Dr. Hoffman warns that could change.

"We are in a dangerous phase of exponential growth and these activities like family gatherings are absolutely feeding the spread," Hoffman said. 

Hoffman says she feels frustrated people aren't staying safe but she understands. 

"It seems to me people have made their choice and unwilling to follow the recommendations that we've made," Hoffman said. 

Both health care workers are asking everyone to follow the CDC's guidelines.

"I hope that everyone will be safe and healthy and next year, we will be in a very different position so we can have a safe and normal holiday," Hoffman said.

"It's great to include people who do not have anywhere to go, but if you can keep it to your immediate family, that is great," Jones said.

Medical officials recommend using ZOOM to video chat with family members to mitigate the spread of the virus.