PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Jeff Johnson was looking forward to cooking up a few turkeys in his new smoker for friends, family, and neighbors this Thanksgiving. But COVID-19 has forced Johnson to cut the guest list down to his wife and two boys.

"If you can reduce the risk a little bit, we're OK," said Johnson. "We'll see these neighbors again and friends again. I'm just thinking about the kids, my kids especially, taking that virus back to school. I just don't want that to happen."

The Phoenix family isn't the only one scaling back on large home gatherings for the holidays.

New studies show small household get-togethers are a big reason there's been a spike in COVID-19 cases nationwide. The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is now advising people to consider not having indoor Thanksgiving dinners or reducing invitees to an immediate family that live in the home.

Dr. Paul Lynch is a Valley physician with Arizona Pain Specialists, who worked on the front lines of the Covid crisis. He said it's not always about the numbers when considering who to have over for the holidays.

"I would say anything over ten people starts to become unsafe," said Lynch. "I would say even if it's just 4-5 people for Thanksgiving, and one of those is your mother who is 80 years old and has a heart condition, then that's unsafe."

Arizona does have something working in its favor that other states don't.

Warm weather - which means more people can have their holiday feast outdoors.

But you still need to take precautions, Lynch said.

"If you really do want to see your mom and dad on Thanksgiving this year, I would recommend you go outside, social distance, and wear a mask," said Lynch.

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

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