How to Safely Celebrate Thanksgiving During a Pandemic

November’s arrival has many Americans looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends. However, this year is quite different due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is still running rampant throughout our nation. COVID-19 has forced us all to significantly change our lifestyles to prevent the transmission of illness in our communities. As a result, Thanksgiving 2020 could be a holiday like none other.

The risk of contracting the novel coronavirus is still very real, and you should weigh that carefully when making your holiday plans. What are some top tips for safely celebrating Thanksgiving during the current spike in COVID-19 cases?

1. Don’t Travel

Traditionally, Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. People crowd airports and make long interstate trips to be with their loved ones. This year, given the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the CDC have advised staying home and holding virtual Thanksgiving celebrations instead.

If you have loved ones who insist on visiting from out of town, ask them to get tested before traveling to see you. Consider having everyone in your home wear a mask and observe social distancing measures when visiting with family, especially if any of your loved ones have health issues that put them at a higher risk of contracting the virus or developing severe complications like lung, heart and kidney damage.

2. Avoid Large Indoor Gatherings

The nation’s top infectious disease experts also point to the peril of attending prolonged indoor gatherings with people from outside your immediate household. The large, multigenerational Thanksgiving celebrations you may have traditionally enjoyed are off the table this year. Most indoor settings don’t have adequate ventilation, so viruses spread more readily when everyone is gathered inside.

3. Limit Shared Surfaces

Sharing food is a hallmark of most Thanksgiving gatherings. Many Thanksgiving hosts set up a buffet-style spread where guests use the same serving utensils and pass sides like rolls, butter and gravy around the table. However, even if you find a way to observe a safe, socially distanced outdoor Thanksgiving gathering, you should still be creative when it comes to how you serve the food. Instead of serving large, communal dishes in a buffet setting that could allow rapid transmission of germs, encourage guests to bring their dishes from home in reusable storage containers. You can still enjoy a meal together this year without sharing food. You can also cook your favorite holiday treats for at-risk loved ones and leave them on their doorstep for zero-contact delivery.

4. Steer Clear of Crowds

We tend to associate Thanksgiving with large, crowded community events like parades, 5K “turkey trot” races and Black Friday holiday shopping. This year, even if your city hasn’t canceled those events, avoid them. You can still take advantage of Black Friday sales with online shopping.

Celebrating Safely Benefits Your Well-Being

We’re all craving a return to normalcy these days, but the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Following these guidelines can help you have the safest possible Thanksgiving gathering and keep yourself and your loved ones healthy for next year’s Thanksgiving. Think of this holiday as your opportunity to create new traditions, instead of clinging to old ones.

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