November 13, 2020

Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others, but if you choose to host a gathering, here are things to keep in mind.

Our traditional holiday celebrations and gatherings are just around the corner and many of us are making plans. Meanwhile, public health officials are urging all Americans to use extreme caution as we prepare for what is sure to be a holiday season like no other, because of the dangers of exposure to COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued detailed Thanksgiving guidelines on how to stay safe during celebrations during COVID-19. Foremost, avoiding travel and participating in virtual celebrations is the lowest risk choice we can make. Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

However, if you will be celebrating with others, it is advised that celebration groups be kept small, are well-ventilated and that gatherings are limited. 

If you are choosing to host a gathering with individuals from outside your immediate household, the following Thanksgiving guidelines for COVID-19 can help you to prepare for your holidays with safety in mind:

  • Limit the size of the group. The CDC does not recommend a specific number of attendees. However, they advise that the size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and by mandates by state and local health officials.
  • Quarantine. Consider asking all guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
  • Practice preventive measures. Mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented. Ask everyone to wear a mask when not eating or drinking, to adhere to social distancing, and use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Stay outside. Plan the event for outdoors, or on a screened porch, if the weather permits. If hosting an outdoor event is not possible, and you choose to host an indoor event, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, or fully enclosed indoor spaces. Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors. 
  • Minimize gestures that promote close contact. Avoid shaking hands, bumping elbows or giving hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet others.
  • Avoid buffet-style serving dishes and utensils. Encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only. If you will be serving any food to a group, consider having one person serve all of the food, so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils. Require servers to wear a mask while serving.

Read the complete Thanksgiving guidelines on staying safe during holiday celebrations on the CDC website. There you will find specifics on who should not attend in-person gatherings, how to handle overnight guests in your home and what to do if someone is exposed to COVID-19 during a holiday event.

The bottom line for this year is that staying home with your immediate household group is the safest choice. And, the more preventive measures that you put in place, the safer your gathering will be. No one measure is enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

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