Guide to a Safe Thanksgiving CelebrationNovember 16, 2020 6:13 pm
We are all anxious for a holiday get-together, a chance to catch up with loved ones, share stories of a tumultuous year and enjoy delicious home-cooked dishes. Heck, at this point, we’d settle for take out and some company! Yet the fact of the matter remains: COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise worldwide, and now more than ever is a time for discipline and reason as we make plans for 2020 Thanksgiving celebrations.
Following is a guide based on the latest information from the CDC on how to safely plan holiday gatherings in a way that protects you, your guests, and the community at large. It’s important to remember that these considerations are designed to supplement—not replace— state and local health and safety rules and regulations already in place.
Currently, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is encouraging residents to keep Thanksgiving get-togethers to immediate household family members only. We will run through some other scenarios below, but keep in mind that anything outside of those parameters will be running against the state’s latest guidance.
Before hosting or attending any holiday celebration during the pandemic, you should assess the current COVID-19 risk in your area, and among prospective guests, to determine whether a gathering is safe, and if so, what type and with how many attendees is reasonable considering the newest guidelines and the current state of the pandemic.
How can I ensure my Thanksgiving get-together is as safe as possible?
Planning a Thanksgiving celebration, like all other activities during a pandemic, is all about risk assessment and management. Obviously, hosting a virtual event is safest for all, followed closely by a gathering of individuals from the same household. Because Thanksgiving traditionally brings together friends and family from different places, and may do so this year despite the latest guidance from the Governor’s office, we will work from that baseline, examining what actions can be taken to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission in other, less ideal scenarios.
First, some ground rules! No matter what you are doing or where you are going, make sure you have your mask and hand sanitizer. If you are hosting, be sure these items are either brought or provided, and that they are used appropriately. Secondly, do not, under any circumstances attend or host an person Thanksgiving gathering if you or anyone in your household:
- Has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and not yet met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
- Has symptoms of Covid-19
- Is waiting on Covid-19 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
What measures should I take to keep risk of transmission low over Thanksgiving?
Let’s take a look at factors to consider as you plan your Thanksgiving gathering:
Community Covid-19 levels: The higher the number of reported cases of Covid-19 in your area, or in that of your guests, increases the risk of infection and spread among attendees for the simple reason that these higher levels make it more likely that someone is infected, even if they don’t exhibit symptoms. Consider these totals as you weigh who to invite, and how many people to include.
Party location: As a general rule, outdoor gatherings are less risky than indoor ones because of air ventilation. By this same rule, indoor gatherings with good ventilation, like lots of open windows providing constant airflow, are safer than those with poor or no ventilation.
Duration of gathering: Pretty straightforward—the longer people are together, the greater chance of transmission.
Number of attendees: Though the CDC has not given a specific limit or recommended a cap on the amount of people attending Thanksgiving gatherings, the more people in attendance, the more difficult it is to limit contact between guests. Like the previous rules, it’s not rocket science—the more people in attendance, the higher the risk of Covid-19 spread. Check local and state restrictions on maximum number of guests.
Locations attendees traveled from: Gatherings that include individuals from a number of different places are riskier than those with people all from the same area. This risk only increases with attendees from areas with higher levels of Covid-19.
Attendee behavior prior to, and at, the party: Gatherings that do not adhere to social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing and other preventative behaviors will pose greater risk than gatherings that closely follow preventative practices.
Attendees who are out in public places and interacting with a lot of people prior to a party are more likely to become infected with the virus. If you are planning on attending or hosting a Thanksgiving get-together, it would be wise to lay low in the weeks before the event, and even consider getting tested, to be sure that you are Covid free and can safely attend, and enjoy, Thanksgiving.
How risky is your gathering?
With the factors above in mind, let’s take a look at different Thanksgiving celebration scenarios, ordered by risk:
Low Risk examples:
- A small, relatively short dinner gathering with the members of your household.
- Cooking traditional family dishes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness, and delivering food to their doorstep (without interacting too closely, of course!)
- Having a virtual dinner with friends and family hosted on Zoom, Facetime, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc.
- Watching a parade, sports events, and movies from home.
Moderate Risk examples:
- Holding or attending a small, outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community. To keep risk lower, be sure to follow social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing protocols during the gathering.
- Visiting apple orchards or pumpkin patches that adhere to mask wearing guidelines and where people maintain social distancing.
- Attending small outdoor sporting events where safety precautions are in place.
High Risk examples:
- Hosting or attending a large indoor gathering, especially one that lasts for multiple hours and includes members of different households who have traveled from different communities.
- Going shopping in crowded stores on or around Thanksgiving
- Participating in or attending a crowded race or parade.
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
After the celebration
If you participate in any higher-risk activities, like getting together with people from different households (even if outside and taking precautions), or think you may have been exposed to Covid-19 during your celebration, you should do the following in the weeks after Thanksgiving:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Avoid being around other people who are at increased risk of getting severely ill from Covid-19
- Consider taking a Covid-19 test
As we continue moving forward with our lives during this difficult period, it is important to maintain human connection and in touch with our loved ones. That being said, these are extreme times that call for extreme measures, and those should be applied around gatherings, especially those involving multiple households.
Take extra precaution before, during, and after these get-togethers to ensure not only your safety and that of your family, but to guarantee that you are not exposing others in your community to the disease, especially those who may be at greater risk than you are. The safest, and swiftest, path through this pandemic is one of selfless consideration and action.
Categorised in: Blog
This post was written by CJ Urgent Care of NJ