TAMPA, Fla. - Medical experts are urging caution as college students prepare to travel home for Thanksgiving amid a nationwide rise in COVID-19 cases.
The director for Hillsborough County's Department of Health, Dr. Douglas Holt raised concerns during the county commission meeting Monday, recommending college students get tested for COVID-19 before traveling. A day later, other experts agreed with that suggestion, and some even went a step further.
"If you don't absolutely have to go back home, don't. Stay where you are," said Dr. Jay Wolfson, the senior associate dean for health policy and practice at the University of South Florida's Morsani College of Medicine. "If you're coming back to Tampa from Pennsylvania or you're going back to Ohio from Tampa, stay where you are now, so that next year you can have a better chance of celebrating Thanksgiving and the holidays with living relatives."
In Hillsborough County, since November 1, there have been nearly 1,000 cases of COVID-19 in people ages 20 to 30 -- the most of any age group.
Students between 18 and 24 years old have consistently had the highest positivity rate among all school-age children.
With that in mind, doctors worry this is among the most likely population of people to spread the virus.
"Three or four or five generations of spread down the way, somebody is going to come in contact with a high-risk person," Wolfson said.
Doctors also recommend limiting family gatherings to 10 or fewer, gathering outdoors, and maintaining COVID-19 safety measures as best as possible.
Experts also urge students returning home to also get a COVID-19 test before returning to college.