HOUSTON - As Thanksgiving approaches, Texas marks a grim milestone.
The Lone Star State is the first in the country to reach and surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases.
FILE PHOTO: Cars wait in line at a coronavirus testing site at Ascarate Park on October 31, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)
This is prompting Houstonians to plan for smaller holiday gatherings and creative ways to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.
"We have elderly people in the family. We're thinking about doing a socially distanced thing where we all hang out in different areas of a house," said Theresa Hickey.
"Just the immediate family and one family friend," said Michelle Coleman.
Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department reports the city's positivity rate is 6.9 percent. "Compared to across the state, we're doing a much better job," Persse stated. "That having been said, we have done better in the past and we brought the numbers down. And, I wish we would move that way again."
The lowest reported positivity rate reported in Houston was 5 percent. However, now cases are on the rise again.
The Texas Medical Center tracks data from 9 counties in the Greater Houston area. It reports a steady increase in the number of positive cases and hospitalizations since last month.
For example, last month there were about 76 patients admitted a day for COVID-19. On Tuesday, there were 132 new patients.
Persse hopes people will opt for virtual Thanksgiving gathering or scale back plans.
"Something outdoors is good. Small groups is good especially if these small groups of people are the family unit that's usually together," he added.
Persse says folks should also consider quarantining 14 days before coming together.
The CDC also has a list of recommendations for holiday gatherings, including opening windows to increase ventilation and having one person in charge of serving the food to avoid gathering in a buffet-style line.