MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the nation prepares to pause for the Thanksgiving holiday, experts say this year is going to be like no other.

With COVID numbers on the rise, AAA predicts travel by ground and air will be greatly impacted.

“You have health concerns combined with unemployment. People are being urged to stay home due to the threat of coronavirus,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins.

The organization said this year is expected to be the lowest Thanksgiving travel volume in four years and the largest yearly decline since the Great Recession.

AAA projects 50 million Americans will travel this Thanksgiving. In Florida, the expectation is 2.8 million travelers. However, these figures could be even lower as Americans monitor the public health landscape, including rising COVID-19 positive case numbers and renewed quarantine restrictions.

“The CDC says staying home is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19. For those who still decide to travel, we urge you to take every precaution possible to protect yourself and others,” said Jenkins.

Those who do plan to travel, or gather in what are traditional family Thanksgiving celebrations, could be exposed to virus spreaders. Doctors say if you plan to celebrate with other members of your family, plan now.

“People need to have responsible behavior now if they are planning to go meet family,” said Dr. Sergio Segarua, Chief medical officer at Baptist Health. “They should not be going out to places with high-risk behavior, for example going to places where there are people without masks, going to places where people are not socially distancing.”

Medical experts say, if possible, Thanksgiving dinners should be held outside with proper social distancing. There should be no buffets and masks should be worn at all times except when eating. Also, there should be a limit of six people at the gathering.

Dr. Segarua said he’s already laid the ground rules for his gathering.

“Those six people have been told well in advance that they need to have the appropriate behavior now so they can enjoy the holiday later,” he said.

He added that there also needs to be the realization that not every loved one is going to be at the family Thanksgiving, nor should they.

“I have a mom who has been quarantined since the beginning of the pandemic. For me to introduce her to my family would be irresponsible of me,” he said.

Experts said before you join a family Thanksgiving make sure you have stayed away from potential exposure to the coronavirus and if possible get tested before you go.

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