As COVID-19 cases begin to surge again across the country, it is all but certain to get a lot worse. So, is it safe to get together for Thanksgiving during COVID-19 with your family? Let’s see what the experts have to say.
Can we safely have a Thanksgiving family gathering?
Unfortunately, there are no risk-free gatherings. The coronavirus pandemic is worsening, and small gatherings in the home are a contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Travel will increase your chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19, as will having multiple people in your home for Thanksgiving. It is recommended to avoid traveling to areas of higher risk.
“You really need to make a decision,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. “Do I want to put that person at an increased risk by having people coming in from all parts of the country, usually in a crowded airport, without necessarily knowing if they’re infected, without having time to get tested or time to do quarantine?”
Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses the lowest risk for spread. In-person gatherings with family members or friends from different households, including college students, poses risk.
Thanksgiving Safety Checklist
If you choose to congregate with family for the holiday season, health experts advise that you take extra precautions. You should keep the gathering small and spend most of the time outdoors. Masks should be worn, and social distancing rules should be followed. They also recommend the following:
- Wear a mask and store your mask safely while eating and drinking
- Optimize outdoor space when possible
- When indoors, open windows for fresh air
- Avoid going in and out of the kitchen while food is being prepared
- Have a designated person serve the food
- Use disposable plates, forks, knives, and cups
- Setup smaller tables to space out guests
- Stay at least 6 feet from others who don’t live with you
According to the CDC, the following people should not attend in-person holiday gatherings.
People with or exposed to COVID-19
• Diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
• Has symptoms of COVID-19
• Waiting for COVID-19 viral test results
• May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
• Is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19
People at increased risk for severe illness
If you are an older adult or person with certain medical conditions who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or live or work with someone at an increased risk of severe illness, you should avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household.
Thanksgiving and COVID-19 Takeaway
Dr. Anthony Fauci said that each family is going to have to make a “risk assessment,” especially if you have an elderly person or someone with an underlying condition in your family.
The CDC’s new guidance stresses that even with friends and family, people need to be cautious during the holidays to prevent them from adding to the trend of increasing cases. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household.
For additional information about COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Updates page.