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CDC urging Americans to stay home for Thanksgiving; state leaders encourage rapid COVID testing

An estimated 50 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving this year. The CDC is urging everyone to stay home instead, or if you do travel, get tested for COVID.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending Americans not travel during the Thanksgiving holiday as COVID-19 infection rates soar nationwide. 

An estimated 50 million people are expected to travel for the holiday this year, with 70,000 passengers set to fly out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport next week. 

The CDC is asking people who are thinking about traveling to stay home instead.

“We need to all be doubling down on the things that we know work on spreading the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz with the CDC. 

For people who still choose to gather for the big feast, health officials say to wear a mask, practice social distancing and get tested beforehand. In South Carolina, there are 300 testing sites across the state with quick turnaround times.

RELATED: New Record: 4,000 new daily coronavirus cases in North Carolina

“Any South Carolinian who wants to far tested can get tested and the get rehearsed results back before Thanksgiving day” said Governor Henry McMaster during a news conference Thursday.

RELATED: Need a COVID-19 test before Thanksgiving? Here's where to go in Charlotte

In North Carolina, the Department of Health and Human Services' dashboard shows testing turnaround is about two days. There are new free testing sites across Mecklenburg and surrounding counties that will become available this weekend ahead of Thanksgiving.

North Carolina health officials reported over 4,200 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, setting a new single-day record. Gov. Roy Cooper also announced a new color-coded COVID alert system that pinpoints counties with the highest rates of community spread. As of Friday, there are three counties in the Charlotte area in the "critical" zone for COVID transmission.