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A farmer holds a six-month-old turkey. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Officials across the U.S. are urging people to forgo their typical large-scale Thanksgiving plans this year and replace them with smaller gatherings or virtual celebrations as coronavirus cases spike nationwide.

The big picture: The U.S. on Thursday set another record, reporting more than 160,000 new COVID-19 cases, the first day over 150,000 since the pandemic began, per the New York Times. Officials worry the numbers will only continue to accelerate due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Canadian officials have attributed some of the country's recent case increases to its Thanksgiving holiday, which is observed on the second Monday in October, per the Washington Post.
  • “In some areas we are learning that gathering during the Thanksgiving weekend contributed to the elevated case counts we are seeing today,” Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said last month.

What they're saying: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says "the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household."

  • If you do plan on hosting a meal with people outside your household, the CDC recommends wearing a mask, social distancing, having your guests bring their own plates, cutlery and silverware, and eating outdoors, if possible.
  • If you're attending a gathering, the CDC says you should bring your own utensils, plates and cups, avoid the area where food is being prepared and wear a mask.
  • The CDC recommends avoiding travel if possible.
  • It also urges people to consider hosting a virtual Thanksgiving with friends and family instead.
  • When it comes to holiday shopping, officials are calling on people to take advantage of curbside pick-up and online ordering.
  • NIAID director Anthony Fauci, recently urged Americans to "use common sense" when celebrating the holiday. "Obviously, it's kind of difficult to be eating and drinking at a dinner with a mask on … to the extent that you can, keep that mask on," Fauci told CBS on Friday.

Go deeper: 7 million packages could experience delays per day this holiday season

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

NYC set to restart indoor dining in February, weddings in March

Outdoor dining in New York City in January. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that if the current coronavirus positivity in New York City holds, indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, one of the busiest dining days of the year.

Why it matters: The forced closure of indoor dining in December caused major backlash, as New York's struggling restaurant industry had already been hit hard by pandemic restrictions. Restaurants will still be required to close at 1o p.m.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.