Under normal circumstances, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with plenty of family and friends. This year, Americans need to take steps to stay safe as cases of COVID-19 rapidly grow in the United States, Easter H. Tucker, interim family and consumer sciences program leader for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, said.
"Taking steps to stay safe during the current pandemic does not mean Americans cannot enjoy spending time with family and friends," she said. "While this is not the right year to celebrate with as many people as you normally would, you can still share this special day with those closest to you."
Tucker said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed guidelines Americans can follow to minimize the risk they get sick. They have divided celebratory activities into three categories: lower risk, moderate risk and higher risk.
Lower Risk Activities:
• Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household.
• Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family.
• Watching sports events, parades and movies from home.
• Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors — especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 — and delivering them in a way that does not involve direct contact. Packaged food can be left on a neighbor’s doorstep, for instance.
· Shopping online rather than in-person on the day after Thanksgiving.
Moderate Risk Activities:
• Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community.
• Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people maintain social distancing, are required to wear masks, and use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or apples.
• Attending small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place.
"Avoid higher risk activities to keep you and your loved ones safe and help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19," Tucker said.
Higher risk activities:
• Shopping in crowded stores around the holidays.
• Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race.
• Attending crowded parades.
• Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors.
• Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your household.
Tucker said everyone can play a part in slowing the pandemic by wearing a mask, washing their hands often or using hand sanitizer when washing is not possible, practicing social distancing and staying home when sick.
"Remember that this year’s Thanksgiving can still be special," she said. "You and your closest loved ones will still be able to enjoy each other’s company, as well as the traditional dishes such as turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie."
For more information on how to lower the risk of infection while hosting gatherings, visit the CDC’s website.