Small festivities do not have to be bereft of loved ones or without fun. Have people drop in throughout the day virtually – take advantage of Zoom’s announcement that it is lifting its 45-minute time restrictions for Thanksgiving Day. This offers a safe alternative to broader interactions that could spread the virus, especially for family members or friends who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Use the limitations presented by COVID-19 as an opportunity to slow down and create a holiday experience to remember. Cook your Thanksgiving meal from scratch and involve all household members. Shift the focus from eating to spending quality time with family while preparing a healthy meal. From the very young to old, everyone can have a job to do throughout the day to contribute.
If absolutely necessary to have visitors, be creative about where you eat. The virus transmits best indoors, so move your festivities outside, even though it may be cold. Wear layers. Take blankets. Start a fire. If indoors, increase ventilation by opening windows and doors. Ask everyone to wear facing coverings when they are not eating or drinking.
Look beyond Thanksgiving Day, too. Being diligent about your public health behaviors on Thanksgiving Day, but then attending gatherings, even small ones, with people outside of your household the remainder of the long weekend, can contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Stay vigilant about wearing face coverings, maintaining 6 feet of physical distance, and practicing good hygiene.
The holiday season typically brings out the best in us – we look for ways to give back, donate and help others. This year add health care workers to your list. COVID-19 impacts their lives dramatically even if they are not ill with the virus themselves. Our gift to them should be staying home, keeping gatherings small and limited to our households, and doing our part to minimize the spread of the virus.
Let’s keep our numbers low, and our spirits high!
Christina Moylan, Ph.D.
Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness