Let’s Talk About Having a COVID-Free Thanksgiving
When I think of Thanksgiving, I imagine the sizzle of a Thanksgiving turkey cooking in the kitchen oven, the smell of warm apple pie wafting through our home, and the sound of football playing on our television. It is a time for families to come together and to celebrate their bond with one another. It is a day when time stands still as Americans take time away from their fast-paced lives and jobs.
Unfortunately, this year is different. The COVID-19 pandemic, which is now a year old, has taken over a quarter of a million lives in the United States alone and over 1.3 million lives worldwide. In the US, we have entered the third and worst wave of the pandemic with the number of new COVID-19 cases fast approaching 200,000 per day. Hospitals and healthcare workers are overwhelmed and exhausted, and although there is hope for a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, it will still be a few months before it becomes available to the general public.
COVID-19 has taken so much from us already and has caused us to make a huge shift in our daily lives. It is hard to fathom giving up our traditional style of celebrating the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. However, in order to prevent the rapid growth of COVID-19 cases as has been predicted, it is important to take precautions this Thanksgiving.
Here are some ways we can safely celebrate Thanksgiving this year:
Celebrate virtually. Although not ideal, this is the best and safest way to come together with family and friends this Thanksgiving. Spend the holiday with those that you live with, and the rest can join virtually for an online celebration. Sometimes it can be difficult to engage with a large group in a virtual setting such as Zoom. Consider having one person moderate the get together to ensure all family members and friends are engaged in the conversation. It may be time to come up with some new family Thanksgiving traditions, such as “Who made the best Turkey?” “Who created the most unique dessert?” “Who made the most festive cocktail drink?”
Celebrate outdoors. If you do choose to have a get together with local family and friends, consider celebrating outdoors if the weather permits. With the country headed into the colder season, it may be difficult, but if the climate is a bit warmer, this will be ideal. Since COVID-19 can spread through small respiratory droplets and particles that can stay in the air for prolonged periods of time, an outdoor gathering will be much safer. If you choose an outdoor celebration, guests should still be seated at least six feet apart from one another and everyone should wear masks when not eating or drinking. Avoid gathering in sealed tents as this is akin to eating indoors.
Keep the gathering small. It will be important to avoid large group gatherings as the risk of COVID-19 spread is higher in larger group settings. The fewer people there are at the gathering, the less likely the chance that one of your guests could be infected.
If you do choose to host or attend an indoor gathering:
Make sure the indoor space is well ventilated. Open windows, keep fans on and keep your distance from one another. A major reason for indoor COVID-19 transmission is the lack of good ventilation. A better ventilated space may lower the risk of spread of COVID-19.
Avoid gathering in one room. All members of the gathering should maintain a six feet distance from one another and should also wear masks at all times until it is time to eat. Meals should be taken in different rooms if possible, to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Limit foot traffic in and out of the kitchen. Since the kitchen is where the meal is being prepared, limit the number of people going in and out of this area and limit the number of people handling the food. Those that handle the food should be wearing masks at all times.
If you are traveling to a different city or state, consider the following precautions:
Travel by car if possible. Although this may add some travel time to your plans, travelling by car will be safer than travelling by airplane or public transportation. If you do decide to drive, either drive alone or with someone you live with, to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission from others especially when in a small space like a car. If you are renting a car, be sure to disinfect the car before you drive in it. Although the risks of COVID-19 exposure are less when driving, the risk can increase with stops at gas stations and rest stops. Be sure to wear a mask, wear gloves if possible and have hand sanitizer ready. Avoid going into a gas station if possible, and instead pay outside. Limit the time spent at a rest stop if possible, to lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
Take all necessary precautions if traveling by plane. Be sure to check with the airlines to see what safety precautions they are taking. Ideally when flying, travelers are spaced at least six feet apart and everyone should be wearing a mask. In addition, consider eye protection as well as there is risk of transmission of COVID-19 through the eyes as well. Keep hand sanitizer with you and consider keeping sanitizing wipes with you as well to clean your seat and tray table. Avoid eating, drinking or using the restroom on the plane if at all possible.
Avoid hosting or attending an in-person gathering if:
You have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19. You might still be considered infectious and can spread the infection to others. Talk to your doctor to see if you are safe to be cleared from an infectious standpoint.
You have symptoms of COVID-19. If you are feeling ill, experiencing fevers or chills, fatigue, headaches, sore throat, respiratory symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms and/or loss of taste/smell, you should be tested for COVID-19. Please refer to the CDC website for the full list of potential symptoms of COVID-19.
You are waiting of COVID-19 test results. If you are waiting for test results of a recently checked COVID-19 test, you should not attend a gathering until your test results come back negative.
You may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days. It can take anywhere from 2–14 days after being exposed to someone with COVID-19 to develop symptoms of COVID-19. If you are not out of this time frame, you should not attend a gathering as it will risk exposing others to the infection.
You are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 infection or are considered “high risk.” High risk individuals include older adults and people with medical conditions including hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, or cancer. Be sure to check out the CDC website for the full list of high-risk health conditions and groups.
We all want things to go back to “normal.” Unfortunately, with the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic this will take some time. In addition to the pandemic, we are also well into Flu season so it is important to take steps to lower the risk of Flu infections as well. Be sure to get your flu vaccine as this can decrease your chance of catching the Flu. If you do catch the Flu, the flu vaccine can decrease your chance of developing a serious infection. Let’s all try to avoid a “twindemic” by getting the Flu vaccine and decreasing the spread of COVID-19 by enjoying a safe and pandemic-friendly Thanksgiving.
Originally published at https://blog.sahoja.co.