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Smithsonian to shut museums, National Zoo amid COVID-19 spike

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Smithsonian to shut museums, National Zoo amid COVID-19 spike 1

The Smithsonian Institute said Thursday it will shutter its eight museums in the Washington, D.C., area as well as the National Zoo as COVID-19 cases spike across the country.

The institute, which runs museums including the National Air and Space Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, said it is not announcing a reopening date for the facilities at this time.

“The Institution’s top priority is to protect the health and safety of its visitors and staff. We will use this time to reassess, monitor and explore additional risk-mitigation measures,” the institute said in a statement announcing the closures.

“We are closely monitoring guidance from local governments, public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” it added.

The announcement comes on the same day the CDC issued its strongest warning yet regarding travel ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday next week.

“Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year,” the agency said in the guidelines released Thursday.

The CDC also suggested Americans mask up for their Thanksgiving festivities and find out if hospitals where they plan to travel are “overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19.”

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Smithsonian to shut museums, National Zoo amid COVID-19 spike

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