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Is it safe to host Thanksgiving dinner during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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Whether your Thanksgiving tradition is gathering at a table with relatives from afar, or tasting a multi-course meal in a good restaurant, things will be different this year.

Pamina M. Gorbach, an epidemiologist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said: “This year is not a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.” “We don’t want large family dinners to become super-spread events.”


COVID-19 is spread from person to person through small particles or respiratory droplets produced when coughing, sneezing and even breathing. It means hugging your favorite aunt, hoarse Political debates about pumpkin pie or just breathing the same air as other dinner guests-even if no one shows symptoms-can spread the virus.

Although there is no evidence that the virus was spread through food or its packaging, Learn It does show that the coronavirus can survive on the surface for up to three days. It is said that it can stay in the air for three hours. the study Published in the “New England Journal of Medicine”.

To reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19, experts recommend that you plan a low-risk Thanksgiving celebration.



Celebrate virtually with everyone

You may feel exhausted about Zoom, but the safest way to celebrate by staying independent is-according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, virtual Thanksgiving is one of the lowest risk options.

Gorbach said: “If everyone takes turns talking, this might be a good way to connect.”

Reduce guest banquets

If your dining table is just for family members, it is safest to enjoy turkey and all fixtures.

A recent Butterball survey showed that this year 30% of people plan to receive only immediate family members (18% last year). CDC Thanksgiving Guidelines List small dinners as the least risky celebration, and “Participating in large indoor gatherings with people outside the family is marked as the highest risk.

There is no “ideal” number of visitors, but Gorbach warns that as the visitor list grows, the chances of transmitting COVID-19 will also increase.Enter the number of guests and your location here Interactive map Determine the risk of an event in at least one coronavirus patient.

stay at home

Crossing the river through the woods to reach grandma’s home, especially if it involves airplane travel and hotel accommodation, increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Latest CDC data Several cases of coronavirus have been linked to air travel. TThe Journal of the American Medical Association stated that the risk of spreading COVID-19 on board was “small”, but Gorbach pointed out all other travel-related activities-including hotel stays, stays at gas stations and restaurants, and even spending time waiting in terminals -Increase your risk.

Tomás Nuño, an epidemiologist and assistant researcher at the University of Arizona, said it is safer to drive to the destination. Remember to wear a mask when you go out, socialize and wash your hands regularly.

Consider whether foreign guests should be isolated

Nuño said that if you want to invite guests from outside your home, you must understand the risks. Check the COVID-19 dashboard to see which state the visitor is from and to. The lower the transmission rate, the lower the risk. According to Nuño, the “safest” visitors are those in the community whose positive test rate is less than 5%.

Nuño said that in an ideal world, guests would be isolated for two weeks before and after family gatherings, especially when they travel to and from areas with a wider community. He recognized that long-term isolation is unrealistic for most people, but he emphasized that if your vacation plan includes visiting family members among high-risk groups, including those with underlying diseases such as heart disease, asthma and type 2 diseases Family members, it is recommended to isolate diabetes.

Rethink your tableware

Skip the fine porcelain and use disposable items instead. Nuño recommends using paper plates, napkins and disposable tableware for Thanksgiving dinner. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology, the virus can survive for up to three days on plastic and stainless steel, one day on cardboard, and several hours on copper.

“[Using disposables] Prevent multiple people from handling the dishes and bring them back to the kitchen for cleaning. “He said. “You can reduce the number of people touching the same surface at any time, which is safer. “

Tables with disposable items are not good for the environment, but Nuño said that this is the best choice to defend against the virus.

Guests are required to store the used tableware in the trash or recycling bin. Gorbach also recommends wearing gloves or using pliers to dispose of any remaining items: “You don’t want to pick up anything from someone’s mouth or to wipe your face.”

Masks will become an important part of Thanksgiving this year. Landlords should consider preparing additional masks and hand sanitizers for guests.

Masks will become an important part of Thanksgiving this year. Landlords should consider preparing additional masks and hand sanitizers for guests.

Assign server

Although there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread through food, the virus may contaminate surfaces. Ask one person to provide food to limit the number of people who come into contact with the dishes.

You should also skip the buffet. Nuño pointed out that the more people crowded with food at the table, the higher the concentration of potentially infectious respiratory droplets.

Host an outdoor party

Indoors, the probability of transmitting COVID-19 is 19% higher than outdoors. If the weather is mild, move the Thanksgiving dinner outside.

Nuño said that even when outdoors, it is important to maintain social distancing and wear a mask. Some people mistakenly believe that COVID-19 will not spread outdoors. In fact, the ideal weather for outdoor gatherings-from warm to cool air temperature, low wind speeds and weak turbulence-can actually allow the virus to spread in the air for a longer time. Coronavirus aerosol particles can spread more than a mile in low wind conditions, which means that other outdoor Thanksgiving celebrations may make you uncomfortable.

Light a fire pit, encourage guests to bring blankets and taste cider on a cold night to create a comfortable atmosphere, but make sure to keep a distance from society and wear a mask.

Always maintain social distance

Skip hugs and handshakes, and encourage distance from society. Gorbach recommends placing the chairs at least 6 feet apart (preferably outside), or setting up separate tables where the same family members sit together.

She said: “Don’t let everyone gather on a big table.” “You want to avoid people mixing as much as possible in the crowd.”

Encourage masks

Gorbach said that if your Thanksgiving dinner includes guests from outside the family, everyone should wear a mask when not sitting at the table. Comparing data on the spread of COVID-19 before and after the mandatory entry into force of masks shows that mandatory face coverings slowed the daily growth rate. Another study found that the death rate from the coronavirus is lower in countries where government policies favor wearing masks. Use “House Rules” to hang signs on the door, and provide a basket with spare masks and hand sanitizer for guests who forget their supplies.

Nuño said: “This year’s Thanksgiving should be different, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate and can still gather with our family.” “We just need to do it differently.”

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