This year, holiday plans may look a little different. With Thanksgiving approaching, scientists and public health experts have outlined recommendations that keep you, your family, and your community safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. While the crowd and turkey may be smaller, here are some ways to maximize your holiday.
Keeping Friends and Family Involved
The CDC recommends individuals continue to adhere to state and federal guidelines when determining who to celebrate with in person. This means that it is best to only celebrate with members of your household that do not interact with anyone else. Family members who may plan on visiting such as college students returning home are not considered household members and do pose an additional risk of spreading COVID-19.
However, there are many activities families may partake in that keep everyone safe and involved. Hosting a virtual/video event while cooking or for dinner can help you stay connected. Zoom is removing the 40-minute time limit for video meetings, allowing you to video chat with your loved ones all night long.
The CDC also suggests doing holiday traditions at home this year, like shopping online for Black Friday, watching Thanksgiving parades on tv, sharing recipes over voice and video chat, playing games, and safely preparing meals to drop off to friends, family, and neighbors.
The CDC and other state and local health agencies are recommending postponing travel this holiday season. However, if you do decide to travel, try to mitigate your risk of becoming infected or spreading COVID-19 by driving to your destination when possible, getting a flu shot before travelling, being mindful of travel restrictions, wearing a mask, and washing your hands often. It is also important to consider how widespread COVID-19 is in both your community and in your destination, and whether you and others you are traveling with have been following strict safety measures like limiting interactions two weeks prior. If you or those you plan on visiting are at high risk for severe illness, consider postponing a visit until next year to keep everyone safe.
Hosting or Attending Gathering with Members Outside Household
If you do visit friends or family outside your household, being in communication with the host regarding COVID-19 reduction strategies in place can help reduce your risk. Beyond wearing a mask when not eating or drinking and keeping a social distance of at least 6 feet, try to celebrate outdoors if possible. If the gathering is held indoors, keep windows and doors open and central air on to increase ventilation. Try not to touch any commonly used surfaces including serving utensils, stair handrails, counters, doorknobs, and trashcans. Save hugs and handshakes for safer times.
If you are the host, use disposable utensils and dishes, make plenty of soap and single-use paper towels available in bathrooms, and keep music volume down to avoid shouting or singing. When cooking, wear a mask and wash your hands often, and serve food in a grab-and-go manner rather than a buffet-style to reduce contamination.
Special Considerations for People with Chronic Conditions
People at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should plan to have a virtual Thanksgiving celebration. This includes older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and many chronic conditions including those with sickle cell disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity and others.
Individuals at higher risk should limit all interactions to people within their household, and should be extra cautious that their loved ones quarantine for at least two weeks prior to any celebrations.
You can find out more about holiday considerations during the COVID-19 pandemic by reading the CDC’s latest guidelines. We wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday!
Stay Safe, Stay Well, Stay the Distance