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The US is covered in the coronavirus from shore to shore. The spread is so bad that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held its first press conference in months on Thursday and urged all Americans to stay home this Thanksgiving. Hours later, the White House coronavirus task force also held a briefing to urge extra caution, stressing that no one should be gathering indoors with people from other households now or next week. "We're asking every American to remain valiant," Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus-response coordinator, said on Thursday afternoon at the White House, suggesting Thanksgiving-as-usual should be canceled. "In this moment of bringing people together ... really limit interaction indoors to immediate households when we see this level of community spread," she said. One million new cases of the virus were diagnosed nationwide last week, washing the map of the country in red:
The recent surge in new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, started with a cold snap in September that hit the midsection of the country hard. As temperatures tumbled, people across the US went indoors into the confined spaces where the virus spreads best. One of the reasons the virus has spread so easily inside homes, bars, and at weddings is that people can pass it along to others without ever showing symptoms, just by talking to one another. "Sometimes when we go indoors, and we're with friends and family, we just assume that if you look OK, you are OK," Birx said. "But among those individuals could be individuals that already are infected, have no symptoms, and are unknowingly spreading the virus to others. It is because of this asymptomatic spread that we have asked people to wear a mask." The spike in daily new cases the country is seeing now is its sharpest yet:
Dr. Eli Perencevich, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Iowa, told Business Insider that Americans should buckle up and prepare for a long, difficult winter. "Right now, I don't see it getting better at all," Perencevich said. "I mean, I think it's still going up and up and up. I think given that hospitalizations and deaths lag a couple of weeks and a month after cases rise, and cases have been rising close to exponentially over the past month, that there's really no end in sight." If you're worried about what the virus is doing where you live, there are a few tools you can use to study its spread. The smart-thermometer company Kinsa has developed a tool that calculates the risk of infection in your ZIP code, based on local rates of COVID-19 and the flu, as well as thermometer data. Researchers at Georgia Tech also created a tool that calculates the risk of catching the coronavirus at a Thanksgiving gathering or other social event, based on the county you live in and how many people will be at that event. But wherever you live, the CDC is stressing that the safest way to do Thanksgiving in 2020 is to connect virtually with anybody you don't already live with. "The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members, from coming together in this family gathering, actually could end up being hospitalized and severely ill and die," Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, said on a call with reporters Thursday.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How the Navy's largest hospital ship can help with the coronavirus
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