With Thanksgiving approaching amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Centers...

With Thanksgiving approaching amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided a list of recommendations to help make dinner gatherings safer. Credit: Doug Young

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is offering recommendations to make Thanksgiving gatherings as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced this month a restriction on household gatherings to no more than 10 people. The CDC also urges people not to travel for Thanksgiving.

Why is the CDC recommending staying home for Thanksgiving?

CNBC reports Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said he’s worried about transportation hubs where people might not practice social distancing while waiting in line for buses and planes.

"CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period," Walke said Thursday. "One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it."

Why is the federal government making these travel and gathering recommendations?

Federal officials have warned the COVID-19 epidemic is worsening nationwide, and small household gatherings contribute to increased infection rates.

Who should be excluded from Thanksgiving gatherings?

According to the CDC, anyone who has COVID-19 exposure, meaning he or she has been exposed to someone with the virus in the past 14 days, should not take part in holiday gatherings. The same applies to anyone who has been diagnosed with the virus, has symptoms, is otherwise feeling ill, or is awaiting COVID-19 test results. Anyone who falls under the previously mentioned categories should follow CDC guidelines for when it’s safe to be around others.

What are some options Thanksgiving hosts can take to make the holiday safer?

Hosts should limit the number of attendees as much as possible and should also limit the duration of festivities. Get-togethers in small areas with poor air ventilation should be avoided. Increasing ventilation by opening windows and doors, is suggested. Gatherings should be held outside, weather permitting.

People should social distance during the holiday, maintaining a distance of6 feet apart, even while indoors.

Attendees should wear masks, especially if they’re gathering in a home with people from multiple households. Everyone in the household should wash their hands with soap as often as possible. If soap and water are not readily available, the use of hand sanitizer containing 60% alcohol is encouraged.

How should food be handled at Thanksgiving?

Anyone cooking over the holiday is urged to wear a mask while preparing food or serving to others who don’t live at the home. Everyone should have a plan where to store their mask while eating and drinking. A dry, breathable bag, like paper or mesh fabric, is recommended in order to keep masks clean in between use.

It is encouraged to have one person serve all the food while wearing a mask so multiple people are not handling the serving utensils. Anyone preparing or handling food should wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. Access to common areas where the food is being prepared, such as a kitchen or near a grill, should be limited.

Dishes should be washed or placed in the dishwasher in a timely manner following use.

What are some alternatives to a traditional Thanksgiving and holiday festivities?

Celebrating the holiday with only members of your home significantly reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19. The CDC also recommends partaking in a virtual dinner and skipping large gatherings such as shopping or going to a movie theater. Instead, federal health officials recommend shopping online or watching a movie at home.

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