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Keeping kids home may be the key to staying safe this Thanksgiving.

The good news is from the beginning of the pandemic, most kids got very mild illnesses when infected with COVID-19.

Now with more than 1 million diagnosed, doctors said they know why. But they also know while children don’t get as sick, they can get other seriously ill.

For that reason, health experts from the federal level to right here in Chicago say keep kids away from extended family this holiday.

“Kids have been diagnosed since the beginning of the pandemic in the state of Illinois,” said Chief Medical Officer at Advocate Children’s Dr. Frank Belmonte. “I worry about those asymptomatic kids. Or pre-symptomatic kids being at those family tables and spreading it to folks that may be more vulnerable.”

With hospitals and intensive care units filing up, front line workers drowning in COVID-19 cases, Dr. Belmonte says it is time to cancel Thanksgiving as we know it.

“I worry if we don’t have some rule following over the next few weeks that mid December is going to be really difficult for our healthcare workers and our emergency rooms,” Dr. Belmonte said.

The suggested rule is no one outside your household should gather for Thanksgiving.

“The people who are considered household members is anyone who has lived with you for the 14 days prior,” Erin Sauber-Schatz with the CDC said.

According to the CDC, that does not include college kids coming home for the holidays.

“It might feel a little bit strange but some of the recommendations are wear masks,” she said. “So for the first two weeks someone is living with you, that has not been living with you in the two weeks prior, you should be wearing masks over your mouth and nose even though you are in your own household.”

Studies point to the common cold, also a coronavirus, as possibly protecting children now from severe cases.

“We know that there are common coronaviruses that circulate in the population usually among children,” said Lurie Children’s infectious disease expert Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent said. “And just cause a cold and maybe by being exposed to these coronaviruses there’s enough similarity there that’ll offer some protection when the kids are faced with this novel coronavirus.”

But that protection does not extend to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Even though the majority of children are not succumbing to COVID-19, there are cases where kids ends up in the ICU. In rare cases, children have died. It’s the unknown doctors say is the most troubling.