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Health officials: here's how your holiday celebrations should look different this year

The CDC released guidance for celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving during the coronavirus pandemic.

NORFOLK, Va. — This is usually the time when people start to plan for the holidays; figuring out modes of travel, where to gather, and who’s cooking the big meal.

As coronavirus cases continue to climb throughout the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says your holiday celebrations should look a lot different this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

New guidance on the CDC’s website urges people to avoid big holiday gatherings this year.

RELATED: City of Norfolk offers safe substitutes for Halloween activities

The CDC said travel increases the chance of spreading COVID-19 - it's safer to stay home this year.

Dr. Edward Oldfield, an infectious disease expert at Eastern Virginia Medical School, said it’s another sacrifice people should make to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

“This is gonna be a very difficult decision that each family is gonna have to make,” said Oldfield.

“One of the major issues is, you’re combining multiple generations," he explained. "Could you imagine if you had a family get-together at Thanksgiving and your grandmother with diabetes died because of the get-together?"

Oldfield said the larger the gathering, the higher the risk.

The CDC says the low-risk way to spend Thanksgiving is by having a small dinner only with the people in your household.

Having Thanksgiving dinner indoors with extended family members is considered a high risk.

The warning came as states across the U.S., including North Carolina and Virginia, were seeing upticks in COVID-19 cases.

Thursday, data from Johns Hopkins University showed the U.S. is approaching eight million total positive cases.

Health officials are concerned the numbers will climb even higher this winter.

“We’re definitely not completely under control in Virginia, this is not the time to let our guard down,” said Oldfield.

Some tough decisions lie ahead of the holiday season, a special time many have looked forward to through this tough year.