COVID-19 is not only still out there, cases are increasing. And the holidays are coming.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi is pleading with Rigefielders to treat this situation with the utmost seriousness — rethinking plans for large family gatherings at Thanksgiving, and having college students tested both before and after they return home.

“If we allow COVID-19 to continue to progress, which it’s started to do, that’s the danger,” he said. “... The danger for our stores — people not coming out to shop, stores going out of business, vacancies. It is not a pretty picture ...

“Perhaps the most significant concern is the holidays,” Marconi said.

He called up the image of the usual long Thanksgiving holiday, when food-laden tables serve as a centerpeice for gathered families, including students who come home from college eager to see their families — and their friends.

Over the long weekend kids end up going out with their old high school gang to talk about what they’re doing at college.

In the time of COVID-19, these simple, generally positive behaviors can be a formula for trouble.

“The holidays and Thanksgiving, and limiting those groups,” Marconi said.

“To have Thanksgiving with the family, with our children and grandchildren, is not the right thing to do right now,” he said.

Marconi added that he and his wife, Peggy, had revised their own Thanksgiving to something with less travel and visiting.

“We have canceled our plans,” he said. “I was going to be seeing my daughter and grandson in Colorado. We will not be doing that right now.”

He asked other people to consider scaling back plans for travel and family events.

Marconi also had some specific suggestions for parents of college students who may be coming back to town.

“If your kids are coming home from college, have them tested before they leave, and have them tested after they arrive. Be sure,” Marconi said.

“It’s not that much of an inconvenience. You’ll be protecting yourself. And, most importantly, you’ll be protecting others,” he said.

“But make your appointments now for the testing, because it will get crowded — I guarantee that.”

Returning college kids have a strong instinct to socialize, which can be a problem. According to the state, the age group in Connecticut with the most COVID-19 cases is people 20 to 29.

“We know when you come home from school you want to see your friends,” Marconi said. “... Take your test. Wear your mask, and socially distance.”

He added a thought for parents.

“You’ve got to be sure your kids do that,” Marconi said.

Another concern is younger kids — middle schoolers, high school kids — coming to town after school and gathering in Ballard Park.

“One of the issues we have is Ballard Park and some of the Friday afternoon get-togethers, and kids not wearing masks,” Marconi said.

“We ask that parents, teachers and school administrators all remind the students that they have to wear their masks.” Marconi said. “They can be out running around having a good time but, please, wear a mask.”

Convincing young people of the importance of masks and social distancing is best done at home, Marconi said, and with the Thanksgiving break ahead, it may well require extra effort.

“We are relying on parents and grandparents to be sure they do everything they can to keep their families in compliance. It’s for their own safety, their own health and welfare,” Marconi said. “A giant ‘please’....

“To have your kids come home and act like this one is no different than any other year, and go out with their buddies … That’s going to put us in a full lockdown,” Marconi said.

“We’re just asking for your help,” he said.

“You’ve got to be sure you’re in compliance. If you’re not, we risk all of it.”