Photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash

As many across the United States make plans and gear up for the holidays, health professionals are sharing their tips to ensure Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t turn into a COVID super-spreader event.

The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is with a smaller get-together with only the people living together in your household, according to the Medical University of South Carolina. But, for those wanting to branch out of the safety of their pandemic pod, there are a few pieces of advice officials offered:

  • Get pre-Thanksgiving COVID-19 tested
  • Stay outside as often as possible
  • Keep 6 feet apart at all times
  • Wash your hands often
  • Wear a mask when you cannot socially distance
  • Take extra precautions for those of high risk, including limiting the amount of people who serve food, and wearing gloves

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends celebrating virtually naturally poses the lowest risk for spread, and gatherings that bring together family and friends from different households pose varying levels of risk.

There are several factors that contribute to that risk, making some gatherings more dangerous than others. Consider the following:

  • Community COVID-19 levels. High or increasing levels of cases in the gathering location, as well as areas where attendees are from.
  • Exposure during travel. Airports, bus stations, public transit, gas stations and more are places where travelers can be exposed to the virus.
  • Duration. Gatherings that last longer pose a greater risk than those that don’t. According to the CDC, being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative 15 minutes requires a 14-day quarantine for the safety of those around you.
  • Behaviors of attendees before and during the gathering. Those who don’t consistently adhere to social distancing recommendations pose greater risk than those who wear masks and socially distance.

As of now, the CDC has not said there is any evidence to suggest handling or consuming food is in any way associated with contracting COVID-19.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has said there are some who should not attend in-person holiday celebrations this year due to the pandemic:

Those who have or have been exposed to COVID-19 should not host or participate in any in-person festivities, for the safety of their friends and family, according to DHEC. Neither should those at increased risk for severe symptoms.

Those traveling long distance by car should also make note of changes made to their plan route due to the pandemic. Some favorite stopping places may be closed, and “drive-thru only” may mean no restrooms. Plan ahead and plan accordingly.

Other Thanksgiving activities, like Black Friday shopping or Thanksgiving Day parades are high risk activities, according to DHEC, even more-so than larger get-togethers at home.