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What medical professionals want you to know ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday

Nola Aigner Davis with the Polk County Health Department said COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still very high heading into Thanksgiving.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Medical experts say COVID-19 and influenza cases are on the rise. Because of this, they have concerns about people gathering this holiday season. 

Polk County Communication Officer Nola Aigner Davis wants people to take COVID-19 precautions seriously.

"If individuals are positive for COVID-19, we don't want anyone to go to a Thanksgiving celebration. Even if you're asymptomatic," Aigner Davis said.

Aigner Davis suggests that if you are sick with the flu you should also stay home from Thanksgiving festivities. Dr. Terri Brennan with University of Iowa Health Care says COVID-19 isn't the only virus to watch out for.

"I think we're even more concerned now because we're seeing numbers increase," Brennan said. "So two weeks ago, we had one case. Last week between Tuesday and Saturday, we've diagnosed through our clinics in our lab, over 150 cases of influenza. The concern that I have is that it's in the community."

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During last year, COVID-19 precautions saved us from a difficult flu season. 

"One of the things that we don't know is we don't know what COVID and flu looks like together. Last year we were all wearing masks we virtually had no flu season," Aigner Davis said. We still have over 100 individuals that are in our hospitals with COVID-19 and that also does not account for the individuals who are in our hospital who have long-term symptoms because of What's this from COVID-19. So our hospitals cannot take the influx of flu patients as well."

Dr. Brennan says the best way to prepare for your holiday festivities is to check if you're COVID-19 free.

"When you're in a gathering, which includes food and drink, people will take off their mask and they haven't gathered for so long, they're going to want to be standing very close to each other," Brennan said. "So definitely is advisable to consider pre- gathering over the counter testing."

WATCH | Iowa doctors worry about rising flu cases, COVID transmission heading into holidays