CDC Guidance for Thanksgiving

As CDC issues new guidance for Thanksgiving gatherings, here’s how to safely visit family this holiday season — if you must

It may be safest to skip this year’s family holiday gathering if possible, public-health experts say — but the decision is a personal one, and there are ways to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission if you choose to forge ahead. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued detailed guidance for a pandemic Thanksgiving as coronavirus cases surged across the country and hospitalizations hit record highs that surpassed April’s figures, stressing that “the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household.”

Potential alternatives include a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends or loved ones and contact-free delivery of safely prepared traditional dishes to family and neighbors, the CDC suggested.

“If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer,” the agency added. Those steps start with properly wearing a mask, maintaining at least six feet of distance from people who don’t live with you, and washing your hands often (or using hand sanitizer in a pinch).

The CDC had issued earlier advice on how to navigate fall and winter holidays, noting that “unfortunately, the COVID-19 epidemic is worsening, and small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases.”

Risk factors to consider before attending a gathering include whether there is community spread of COVID-19, both where the gathering is held and attendees are coming from; exposure during travel; the location and duration of the gathering; the number of attendees and capacity for physical distancing; and attendees’ preventive behaviors before and during the gathering, the agency said.

“Use of alcohol or drugs may alter judgment and make it more difficult to practice COVID-19 safety measures,” it warned.

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