Los Angeles County health officials issued a final plea for residents to exercise caution during Thanksgiving to prevent holiday gatherings from becoming spreading grounds for COVID-19.

“As we all take some much-needed time to rest and gather with loved ones, please remember the risk of COVID-19 transmission continues to be substantial, and unvaccinated people continue to be at higher risk for severe health outcomes,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday in a statement. “Taking a common sense approach to the holiday can limit risks.

“Please remember to gather outdoors for as much of your Thanksgiving festivities as is feasible, get tested if you are unvaccinated or have high-risk guests and mask up when indoors if anyone attending is unvaccinated and/or high risk,” she said. “And when you’re out shopping or at community events, mask up and avoid large crowds. We wish you all a safe, healthy and happy holiday.”

The county Department of Public Health recommended that people avoid crowded or poorly ventilated areas and maintain distance from others while eating, unless everyone is fully vaccinated.

As usual, anyone who is sick or experiencing COVID symptoms should stay home and get tested, officials said.

The county on Wednesday reported another 28 COVID-19 deaths, lifting its cumulative virus-related death toll to 27,074.

Another 1,081 new infections were also confirmed, giving the county an overall total from throughout the pandemic of 1,522,240.

The rolling daily average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 1.4% as of Wednesday.

According to state figures, there were 552 COVID-19-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, up slightly from 551 on Tuesday. Of those patients, 155 were in intensive care, down slightly from 158 on Tuesday.

As of last week, 82% of county residents aged 12 and over had received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, and 73% were fully vaccinated. Of the county’s overall population of 10.3 million people, 71% received at least one dose, and 63% were fully vaccinated.

Black residents continued to have the lowest vaccination rates, at 54%, followed by Latina/o residents at 59%, whites at 72% and Asians at 80%.

Of the roughly 5.99 million residents who were fully vaccinated as of Nov. 16, 75,249 have subsequently tested positive for the virus, for a rate of 1.26%, Ferrer said. Of the vaccinated population, 2,528 have been hospitalized, for a rate of 0.042%, and 422 have died, a rate of 0.007%.

While Los Angeles County typically releases updated COVID-19 case numbers daily, no figures will be released Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday. The next county update is expected on Friday.

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