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CDC Safety Guidelines for Celebrating Thanksgiving 2020

Thanksgiving is one of America’s favorite national holidays that feels as timeless as any of the best traditions. Except timeless doesn’t necessarily mean unchanging. In 2020, Thanksgiving is going to look much different for most families due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic and the threat of spreading COVID-19 at social gatherings.

If you are worried about COVID-19 putting your family at risk during Thanksgiving, your fears are certainly not unfounded. Throughout the year, positive COVID-19 cases have increased predictably after major holidays, like the 4th of July, Labor Day, and Halloween. A similar spike will likely happen this Thanksgiving, which bears the question: “What can you do to celebrate Thanksgiving but not contribute to the spread of the coronavirus?” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some ideas and safety tips.

CDC Safety Tips for Thanksgiving 2020

When planning your Thanksgiving 2020 event, consider these tips from the CDC:

  • Fewer people and less time: For some families, Thanksgiving is a huge celebration that brings an entire extended family under one roof for hours or days. This year, the CDC warns that such a celebration is not the safest option. The fewer people you can have in your home, the better. The less time they are there, the better, too. It is even encouraged to have family members attend your Thanksgiving event digitally, such as through teleconferencing apps that make it seem as if they are seated at the dinner table.
  • Transportation hub risks: The days leading up to Thanksgiving are consistently among the busiest travel days in the world each year. Although the coronavirus pandemic has heavily restricted travel, it is still expected that there will be a big spike in travel around this time. Be aware that any of your friends or family members who are traveling through transportation hubs like airports and train stations will inherently be at a greater risk of contracting the virus. Anyone who is traveling to visit should consider driving themselves, even if that would mean a long day on the road.
  • Same-week testing: People who are planning on attending a Thanksgiving celebration in-person should also plan to be tested for COVID-19 before the event. Check with local testing centers and inquire about how long it takes to get tested and how long it usually takes to get the test results. Everyone should schedule a testing day based on that information. For example, if the testing center is confident that your test will be ready in 48 hours, then get tested on the Monday before Thanksgiving, which should let you know the results that Wednesday. Anyone who has tested positive must absolutely not attend any event and should instead make immediate plans for isolated medical care.
  • Check local infection rates: You should research local infection rates in your area leading up to Thanksgiving. Areas with higher infection rates can be presumed to have more people in the community with the virus, perhaps including those who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. If the infection rate is climbing, then you might want to cancel even a small gathering. While you are checking infection rates, you should also check local laws regarding Thanksgiving. Your city may have made certain gatherings unlawful, such as an event with 5 or more people.
  • Stay outdoors: Virologists have come to understand that the coronavirus has a greater chance of spreading in closed areas with multiple people sharing the same air. To this end, planning your Thanksgiving dinner outside can help reduce the risk of contraction. It might make sense to plan a Thanksgiving lunch while it is still bright and sunny out.
  • Continued safety standards: Do not forget to continually and consistently follow the usual COVID-19 safety standards declared by the CDC. Everyone at your Thanksgiving gathering should wear a facemask and stay at least six feet apart at all times. People with typical COVID-19 symptoms – fever, cough, and fatigue – should not be allowed to attend. Sanitation measures around your home should also be improved, such as wiping down all surfaces in common areas every hour during your event.
  • Quiet gathering: The CDC has warned that shouting, singing, and other boisterous activities will naturally increase the risk of spreading the virus because it causes people to inhale and exhale larger breaths of air. A yell will also carry the air from your lungs further into the room. Insist that all of your guests always talk at moderate levels. Turn off any music playing if it is causing people to talk louder in order to speak above it.
  • Food preparation and service: A limited number of people should enter the kitchen and serve food during your Thanksgiving event. Ideally, there will just be one designated cook and server who wears gloves and a facemask, which reduces the risk of the virus spreading due to food contamination. You should not serve your food buffet style, as this will cause everyone at your gathering to potentially contaminate every dish. Even without the coronavirus pandemic, limiting the number of people who prepare and serve food at Thanksgiving is an easy way to prevent other forms of food contamination.

 From all of us at Politis & Matovina, P.A. in Daytona Beach, Florida, we wish you and your family the happiest and safest Thanksgiving!