Tips to reduce spread of COVID-19 at Thanksgiving gatherings


INDIANAPOLIS — Smaller gatherings are key this Thanksgiving in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. 

For a while now, health leaders have been asking people to reconsider how they spend the holiday because of the pandemic.  

Ideally, local health leaders ask that people keep their celebrations on Thursday to just their households, but for those who still plan on gathering with others, they offer some tips to try to reduce the spread of the virus as much as possible.  

“We don’t believe this will last forever, but this is really an important step to slow the spread of COVID,” said Kristen Kelley, nursing director of infection prevention at IU Health.

Keep your numbers small, try to screen your guest to make sure they haven’t been exposed and aren’t showing signs of the virus. Don’t be afraid to ask someone not to cook food, and even not to come if they aren’t feeling well. 

Someone can be infectious and not know it because they don’t have any symptoms, meaning they could unknowingly be spreading it to people. 

“The thing about Thanksgiving is, sitting around the meal, the dinner table without a mask on, within 3 to 6 feet, it actually is the perfect condition that COVID will spread,” Kelley said. 

“Close quarters with families sharing food, shared utensils, the same air space, where different people from different generations come together, that actually can create the perfect environment for COVID spread.” 

Kelley says the chances of coming into contact with someone with the virus are greater in larger gatherings, so don’t be afraid to wear a mask when you’re not eating. 

“So, think about being that person who maybe stands up and does that. Yes, it might feel a little awkward in the beginning, but you can leave that gathering feeling pretty comfortable that you won’t have COVID in the next couple of days.” 

That’s also something Community Health Network Chief Executive Physician Dr. Ram Yeleti agrees with. 

“We’re used to wearing masks in grocery stores, but it’s important even now to wear a mask during these gatherings even inside when you’re with each other,” said Yeleti 

It’s also recommended that you take advantage of the outdoors if you can. Bundle up and eat outdoors, or open a window or door to circulate more air.  

Yeleti also says give those who are at high risk another option.  

“Let them Zoom in.  They can still enjoy everything by Zooming in. This is only going to be one time this year, next year should be much better. So, let’s do the best we can with that.” 

Also, make sure to keep your hands clean, especially if you’re having dishes with shared serving utensils that multiple people will be touching. 

“This year is like no other year. It isn’t going to be like this forever. We really see the next 2-4 months being really crucial to stop the spread of COVID. We will start getting out of this, as we get a vaccine when spring comes around,” said Kelley. 

If you aren’t feeling well and might have the virus, considering joining in virtually if you can. 

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