As we edge toward the end of November, many students are making plans to return home for Thanksgiving. And as the pandemic drags on, many are expressing a desire to see loved ones and reconnect with family.

But now is not the time to put family members at risk. COVID-19 cases in the city, state and nation are on the rise. As the holiday season approaches, we urge students to either take special precautions or avoid contact with relatives altogether.

Over the summer, UTA announced that all classes would switch to online instruction after Thanksgiving break. Increased travel and family gatherings are risk factors in COVID-19 transmission, and the university decided holding in-person classes after the holiday would be inviting disaster.

According to The New York Times, infections and hospitalizations have hit record levels across the country. On Friday, more than 181,000 cases were reported nationwide. Last week, one in 400 Americans tested positive for the virus.

Right now, Texas is one of the hardest hit states. On Friday, Texas became the national leader in COVID-19 cases with 1 million. El Paso has dramatically increased its number of mobile morgues in preparation for coming deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traveling increases the likelihood of catching and spreading COVID-19. We all want to spend time with friends and family, but the unpleasant truth is having Thanksgiving dinner this year could mean sending grandma to the hospital or worse.

If you must travel and spend time with your family, the CDC has a couple recommendations. Celebrating virtually or only with those in your household can mitigate some risks. Check and see what the COVID-19 infection rate is for the area you’re traveling to. Be mindful of exposure while traveling and take extra precautions in airports, public transportation and gas stations.

Cases are on the rise and the worst of this pandemic is likely still ahead of us. Take care, be safe and good luck.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Spencer Brewer; Editor-in-Chief Shay Cohen; news editor Angelica Perez; Cecilia Lenzen, life and entertainment editor; sports editor Chris Amaya; David Silva Ramirez, life and entertainment reporter; and copy editor Andrew Walter.

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