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Health experts, faith leaders warn against travel ahead of December holidays

Much like before Thanksgiving, Americans are being encouraged not to travel this holiday season. Experts hope more people listen.

SEATTLE, Wash — In a video released by Public Health – Seattle & King County, leaders from all different faiths are seen sharing one uniform message: how to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus while worshipping.

"It's safest for children and elders to pray at home," religious leaders in the video said. "Everyone should wear a face mask before, during and after services."

The message comes ahead of December's religious celebrations. Much like Thanksgiving, Americans are being discouraged from acting like it is holiday-as-usual.

On Sunday's Meet the Press, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said every state in the nation, aside from Hawaii, is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases. Birx said Americans should not continue to gather in large numbers without masks, among ignoring other guidelines.

“Every state needs to be critically informing their state population that the gatherings that we saw in Thanksgiving, it will lead to a surge this week and next week, and we cannot go into the holiday season, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, with the same kind of attitude," said Birx.

While a COVID vaccine is on the way, the majority of the population won't get it until well in 2021. Dr. Birx said even the elderly and those living with co-morbidities shouldn't expect to receive the vaccine until February.

"If you don't want to lose your grandparents, your aunts, if you're over 70, 20% of those who contract COVID are hospitalized, and still 10% are lost," said Birx.

The holidays are a time where we receive comfort through traditions, but the message is clear: this holiday season will be anything but traditional.

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