The U.S. Is in No Shape for Thanksgiving

‘The best thing to do is simply not have an extended family gathering, full stop’

Tara C. Smith
Elemental

--

Photo: Maren Caruso/Getty Images

We’re now two weeks out from Thanksgiving in the U.S. Do you have a plan?

Given record Covid-19 case numbers across the U.S., the best thing to do is simply not have an extended family gathering, full stop. My family is keeping it to immediate households only this year. We’ll probably video chat with my nephews and nieces, but that’s it for 2020.

If you’re determined to have a larger gathering, today is the day for everyone attending to start quarantining if possible. Have groceries delivered, stay home, and avoid others not in your household if you can. This will reduce your chance of exposure between now and Thanksgiving day.

We’re just not willing to risk it for a meal.

If you can’t quarantine, you can still minimize other exposures. You might be needed at work, but you can avoid bars, restaurants, and seeing other friends for the time being. Decrease your bubble as much as possible to keep your Thanksgiving day guests safer.

If you and other attendees can get tested prior to gathering, that could also give additional peace of mind, but keep in mind that any exposures that occur after taking the test can still leave you at risk of infection. A negative test with later exposures isn’t a guarantee, and if you test too early, you could get a false negative result. Tests may be helpful but are not foolproof.

During the meal, the CDC has put out some guidelines to minimize transmission while you’re gathered together. The keys: masks, ventilation, distance, hand hygiene, and not sharing utensils. Also: Keep it short.

I know none of this is ideal. I haven’t been able to see my youngest niece for a year, and she’s now 3 and has changed so much. But Ohio’s spread is out of control, several family members are essential workers, and we’re just not willing to risk it for a meal.

Hospitals and medical personnel are at their limits, and my family is not willing to chance getting sick and maybe needing hospitalization amid all of this. We’re all hoping for reduced transmission and a vaccine in 2021 so we can have a more normal celebration next year.

This is pulled and lightly edited from my Nov. 12 Twitter thread.

--

--

Tara C. Smith
Elemental

Tara C. Smith is an infectious disease epidemiologist at Kent State University. She works on zoonotic infections, antibiotic resistance, & science communication