With Thanksgiving week here and coronavirus case numbers increasing across the country, many governors and local officials are warning people about gathering this year.

Some areas in the United States have started to put restrictions back in place to limit gatherings. The cold weather and the holidays mean more people getting together indoors, and with it, a higher risk for infection.

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper said there was hope on the horizon with potential vaccines, but he warned the state could start closing businesses again if case numbers don’t come down.

“This Thanksgiving week, our state and the country are reporting record high case numbers and hospitalizations,” Cooper said. “I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today: we are in danger. This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus.”

The safest way to celebrate the holiday this year is to stay home, public health officials say. But if you do plan to gather for Thanksgiving, here are 12 tips from public health officials to stay safe:

  1. Get tested before you travel or join a celebration and stay home if you feel sick.
  2. People at increased risk from severe coronavirus complications should not travel or gather with people outside their household, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. If you do plan to travel, make sure to check any travel restrictions for your destination. The CDC keeps a list on its website of where to find travel restrictions .
  4. Handshakes and hugs are still out, but an elbow bump for a greeting could do the trick. You could even call it “giving the turkey wing” for Thanksgiving.
  5. Keep gatherings as small as possible.
  6. When gathering with people outside your own household, the familiar refrain of wearing a mask and staying six feet apart still applies to holiday get-togethers.
  7. If possible, gathering outdoors is much safer than having people indoors. The CDC says people should still wear masks when getting together outdoors.
  8. An open-air tent could be a good way to give people a chance to gather outdoors, but people should still wear masks when they can’t practice social distancing.
  9. Make sure people avoid singing or shouting during a gathering, even if that means having to turn down the football game or music.
  10. The kitchen is almost always the most popular room in the house during a holiday, but this year, limit the number of people who can be in the area where food is being prepared. This includes avoiding crowding around a grill outside.
  11. If a Thanksgiving celebration has to be inside, avoid crowding in spaces with poor ventilation. “Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation,” the CDC says.
  12. Avoid family-style or buffet serving, which could lead to crowding and around the food and passing around utensils. Public health officials suggest identifying one person to serve plates so multiple people aren’t handling serving utensils.
Federal officials said potential vaccines for the coronaviurus are in the emergency approval process now. Vaccines will first go to front-line health care workers and the most vulnerable populations.
As people wait for vaccines, officials warn that gathering for Thanksgiving could cause virus spikes around the county. For more tips on holiday gatherings this year, see the CDC's guide to safe Thanksgiving celebrations.