COVID-19 cases are continuing to surge in the U.S., and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a strong recommendation against traveling for Thanksgiving in order to prevent dangerous growth in nationwide cases.

“[The] CDC is recommending against travel in the Thanksgiving period,” said director of the Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections Henry Walke in a statement, per BuzzFeed News. “This is a strong recommendation.”

He acknowledged it's "a difficult conversation and sometimes a sad one” to tell loved ones you’ll be staying home, but exposure to the virus increases when family members travel to meet each other.

Since the guidance is not a mandate but strongly recommended, the CDC also shared updated guidelines for reducing the risk of spreading COVID at family functions and safe travel for those who are still attending holiday gatherings.

“Most important, wear a mask,” Walke said. He said family members should keep six feet apart from those who have traveled and to wash their hands often. College students were advised to try to get home 14 days before any parties which elderly or ill and at-risk guests are attending, and consider isolating themselves to limit transmission.

The new CDC guidelines also advise boosting ventilation with outdoor activities and wearing face coverings when together with travelers. The federal public health agency also suggests bringing your own food, wearing a mask indoors, and staying away from kitchens in other people’s households.

“I haven't seen my parents since January. That's been difficult,” Walke said. “I'm staying home.”