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How to stay safe this Thanksgiving

COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high in the United States and we have a national holiday this Thursday. Thanksgiving is usually celebrated by having a large dinner with family members. Some families will invite their extended families and even their friends. “Friendsgiving” is another way Americans often celebrate thanksgiving. This year Thanksgiving needs to be celebrated differently. Some people have been isolating for days and maybe getting COVID-19 tests to spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones. By holding family gatherings we could potentially spread COVID-19 and infect ourselves and our community. The COVID-19 pandemic has been isolating and this holiday season is being seen by many as a way to reconnect with family and friends. Fortunately, we have alternative ways to celebrate and you can attempt to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 if you gather with people outside of your household members.


Traveling and preparing to gather

The CDC advises everyone to stay home and not travel this year. If you are going to travel the “CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, said. When traveling make sure to wear a mask and maintain social distance the best you can. Use hand sanitizer often and wash your hands when you have access to clean water, hand soap, and a clean way to dry your hands. The CDC also advises taking into consideration the levels of COVID-19 in the gatherings location as well as the areas where attendees are coming from.


It can take up to 14 days for COVID-19 symptoms to show. Self-isolating for 14 days prior to your gathering can help keep your gathering from spreading COVID-19. You or other attendees could be asymptomatic so everyone still needs to follow proper safety protocol. Although it is too late to self-isolate for 14 days for Thanksgiving, keep this in mind for future holiday gatherings.


The gathering size and style

Every guest in attendance contributes risk so the risk grows per guest. Keeping gatherings small is better than having a large gathering. If the weather permits it, try to have your gathering outdoors. Require attendees to wear masks when not eating or drinking even when outdoors.

Indoor gatherings in an enclosed space are at higher risk for spreading COVID-19 than an outdoor gathering. Creating an enclosed space outdoors, such as with a tent, counts as having an indoor gathering. Increase indoor ventilation by opening windows and doors or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.


Precautions when gathering

Attendees from different households should stay six feet apart, wear masks, wash hands, and follow local safety regulations. When eating, individuals must only be sitting within six feet of their household members. Distance different households as far apart as possible when eating. Removing your mask to eat or drink will make you more susceptible to catching or spreading COVID-19. Once you are done eating or drinking put your mask back on immediately. The use of alcohol or drugs may alter one’s judgment which the CDC warns may make it difficult to take safety precautions properly. Guests from different households should avoid direct contact including hugs and handshakes.


For the host

Encourage guests to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Also, provide a supply of hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Sympol has bundles of hand soap and hand sanitizer available. Stock your bathrooms with single-use towels so every time hands are washed they have a clean towel to dry them on. Use touchless garbage cans.


As guests arrive share your COVID-19 safety guidelines and the steps that you all will take to keep your gathering as safe as possible. This would be a good time to give every household their own bottle or bottles of hand sanitizer to keep applying throughout the night.


On being alone

Many are choosing to stay home and have video calls. This has been a year of canceled plans and isolation. We refrained from gathering to celebrate Easter, Passover Seders, Fourth of July, summer vacations, school graduations, and other events that we may gather for. Let this discipline persist and maintain your efforts in stopping the spread. Together we can beat COVID-19 by staying apart, in heroic solitude. So set up your Zoom calls, group Facetime, and Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party).


Thank you for your solidarity

“Alone and collectively, we face the uncertainty. That resilience is our strength, for which we give thanks.” (LA Times Editorial Board)


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