Thanksgiving is going to look very different for many Americans this year compared to years past. But there are ways to gather with family while also following COVID-19 guidelines. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, gathering with friends and family for Thanksgiving can increase the chances of getting or spreading the coronavirus, and the health agency says the safest way to celebrate is by only seeing people in your household.
However, the CDC has put out guidelines on how to make celebrations safer if you see people outside your household.
The CDC recommends bringing your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils to gatherings. People should also avoid going in and out of areas where food is being prepared or handled. Social distancing should be practiced, and masks should also be worn when not eating or drinking.
Using single-use salad dressings, condiment packets and disposable plates and utensils is also advised.
For those hosting, the CDC recommends limiting the number of guests and having a meal outside. That’s because the virus is known to spread more easily indoors than in an open, outdoor space.
For this reason, indoor celebrations should also have a limited amount of guests and windows should be open. The CDC recommends all gatherings – not just on Thanksgiving – be held outdoors, when possible. “If this is not feasible, make sure the room or space is well-ventilated,” the CDC says.
Hosts should also talk to their guests about expectations for celebrations and make sure they are disinfecting frequently-touched areas.
Of course, the CDC also recommends everyone continue to practice basic COVID-19 safety measures. In addition to wearing a mask and social distancing from others, wash your hands frequently – especially when traveling.
Certain states might have travel restrictions or rules on the number of people that can gather. People should check their local guidelines before embarking on Thanksgiving plans.
The CDC is also urging people to consider alternative Thanksgiving weekend plans, like having virtual dinners, or shopping online rather than going to crowded stores on Black Friday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has warned about the risk of big family gatherings, especially those held indoors.
“I think given the fluid and dynamic nature of what’s going on right now in the spread and the uptick of infections, I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings, particularly when members of the family might be at a risk because of their age or their underlying condition,” Fauci said last month in an interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell.
“Namely, you may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected,” he said.
Fauci said his own Thanksgiving will look very different this year.
“When you’re talking about relatives that are getting on a plane, being exposed in an airport, being exposed in a plane, then walk in the door and say ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ — that you have to be careful about,” Fauci said.
“I would love to have it with my children, but my children are in three separate states throughout the country, and in order for them to get here, they would all have to go to an airport, get on a plane, travel with public transportation,” he said.
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