Experts share tips on how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely this year

Posted at 7:05 AM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 09:37:35-05

TAMPA, Fla. — As COVID-19 cases surge, medical experts say there are several factors you should consider before celebrating the holiday to limit virus spread.

With the pandemic worsening again, experts fear small gatherings will contribute to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

“This is something where the public is going to really have to help out the healthcare system and help out healthcare providers,” said Dr. Jason Wilson, Associate Director of the Emergency Department at Tampa General Hospital.

RELATED: CDC recommends Americans do not travel for Thanksgiving amid spike in COVID-19 cases

Experts say there are multiple factors that contribute to the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 at in-person gatherings like Thanksgiving.

Here are some things that could create risk:

  • The CDC is warning about virus exposure during travel, urging people not to do it, and if they must to travel as safely as possible.
  • How long a gathering lasts is also risky, according to experts. They say gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter ones.
  • The CDC says the size of the celebration should be determined by the ability of attendees from different households to say six feet apart.
  • Also consider what attendees were doing prior to the gathering — ask if they were adhering to social distancing measures.

According to experts you shouldn’t attend Thanksgiving dinner this year if:

  • You’ve been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
  • You’re waiting for test results.
  • You’re experiencing some COVID-19 symptoms.
  • You either have an increased risk for severe illness or live with someone who does.

“I know there’s a lot of fatigue right now about this virus. I know that it is the holiday time and it is time to spend time with family so there’s going to be even more sort of breakdown. I think a lot of this is being cognizant of following those public health measures because we’re in a critical time,” said Wilson.

RELATED: We shouldn't gather for Thanksgiving, but here's what to do if you're going to do it anyway

While we do have to be careful, experts say we can still celebrate the holiday safely.

Here are some things you can do to make your Thanksgiving gathering safer:

  • Have the celebration outside
  • If you have to be inside, one windows to increase ventilation
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces often
  • Ask guests to bring their own drinks, plates, and utensils
  • Consider allowing one person to serve the food
  • People who aren’t in the same household should stay at least 6 feet apart
  • Wear masks
  • Have a virtual celebration

“For your own family, you’ve got to think about who’s coming to these events. Is this the right event for grandma and college aged grand kid to be at, at the same time? If they’re going to be there at the same time, do we keep them in the same room together or are we going to do this outside this year? Are we going to be in the same house and I know this sounds kind of silly, but masked,” said Wilson.