A safe Thanksgiving during a pandemic is possible, but health experts know their advice is as tough to swallow as dry turkey: Stay home. Don’t travel. If you must gather, do it outdoors.
With a fall surge of coronavirus infections gripping the US, many Americans are forgoing tradition and getting creative with celebrations, The Associated Press writes.
For the first time in five years, Atlanta nutrition consultant Marisa Moore won’t travel to South Carolina to see her large extended family. Instead, she plans to video chat with them as she attempts her first home-baked apple pie. When it’s time to eat, they’ll compare plates.
“We’ll talk all day,” Moore said.
Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its holiday guidance, noting the virus crisis is worsening and that small household gatherings are “an important contributor.”
The CDC said older adults and others at heightened risk of severe illness should avoid gathering with people outside their households.
Experts point to Canada, where Thanksgiving was celebrated October 12. Clusters of cases tied to family gatherings followed. “This sucks. It really, really does,” Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said two weeks later.
There’s no need to cancel the holiday. Spending time with loved ones is important for health too, said Lacy Fehrenbach, Washington state deputy secretary of health.
The coronavirus spreads more easily when people are crowded together inside, so Fehrenbach encourages new outdoor traditions such as hiking as a family. Guest lists for indoor feasts should be small enough so people can sit six feet apart while unmasked and eating, she said. Open the windows to keep air circulating.
The more people who attend a gathering, the greater the chances that someone in the party will be carrying the virus, Fehrenbach said, “even someone that you know and love.”
What about a quarantine? The magic day to start a pre-Thanksgiving quarantine is Nov. 13, according to Lindsey Leininger, who leads the Nerdy Girls, a cadre of scientists collaborating on a website called Dear Pandemic.
A strict quarantine would mean no grocery shopping, no working outside the home and no in-person school for 14 days.
What about testing? The best day to test would be as close to Turkey Day as possible while still leaving enough time to get results. But a test might not catch a still brewing infection so the best plan is the quarantine for two weeks the time it can take for symptoms to show up.
Some might gather outside or meet neighbors in the front yard for socially distanced pie and gossip. Gobble gobble.