What My Family is Doing to Reduce COVID Risk at Thanksgiving

I’m going to start by saying that I’ve been taking the pandemic pretty seriously since the start, so these risk reduction strategies might seem a bit over-the-top or silly (heck, I even gave the same disclaimer to my family) depending on where you fall on the spectrum. But given that, I spent a lot of time pondering and researching what to do about Thanksgiving. I wanted to be sure that we could reduce everyone’s collective risk as much as possible so I could feel good about getting together with them. Here are the strategies I ultimately decided on and asked my family to adhere to as well in order to reduce our COVID risk at Thanksgiving. *Hint: do not attend a large gathering!

Before you tell me that I have nothing to worry about as a young and healthy person, Imma stop you right there and direct you to these articles right here. Since this spring, I have read too many stories about young people getting severely sick (often long term), needing transplants, and even dying, to think that it could not also happen to me. With that in mind, I have the attitude of “better safe than sorry” and that’s reflected in these strategies. I also read someone’s quote a couple months ago that guided this endeavor: “You will never know if you did too much; but you WILL know if you did too little.”

I cannot stress enough: DO NOT ATTEND OR HOST A GATHERING WITH MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE. If ever there is a time to bounce from seeing your in-laws’ obnoxious cousin or great aunt, that is now. I mean, a more perfect excuse to ditch is never going to come around again. Just saying.

Only five of us will be getting together for Thanksgiving which felt like a very reasonable amount. Currently, the California state limit is three households; technically we’re bringing four together in this, but since my dad and sister live alone it was close enough to call it good.

The 9 covid risk reduction strategies we’re following:

  • 7-10 days in advance of gathering, limit interactions to only your existing bubble/household and essential businesses
  • Obviously, wear masks everywhere in the days leading up to the gathering (should be done anyway, all the time)
  • 3-5 days in advance (especially the host), be extra diligent about washing your hands immediately when you get home to help ensure surfaces are clean and you don’t transfer germs into the host’s house (again, should be done anyway to keep your house a safe zone)
  • No hugs unless masked
  • Wash hands thoroughly when arriving at host’s house, and throughout visit
  • Notify everyone if you feel any symptoms (at all) within 48 hours
  • Maintain distance as much as possible (we’ll be putting in the extra leaves to the table)
  • Keep as many windows (and doors, if they’re screened) open as possible during the visit
  • Suggested: wear a mask when inside during the visit

As always, the key for reducing your COVID risk is to implement multiple strategies at the same time, instead of relying on only one or two. I also want to note, I purposely designed this to be as thorough as possible without feeling like a COVID test was warranted. Yes, I know they are quick and inexpensive, but often still uncomfortable and just one more thing people have to go out of their way to do (especially me, who lives 30 mins outside the nearest metro area). Also, a negative COVID test is not a hall pass to skip the rest of the precautions. Someone can test negative before they’re infectious and develop symptoms.

So there you have it friends. The nine strategies we’re employing to reduce our COVID risk for Thanksgiving! I sincerely hope this was helpful for you in determining what you should do for your own get together. The last thing I will note: if you’re planning multiple holiday get togethers (with different people), please make sure they are spaced at least 10-14 days apart! ‘Cross contaminating’ households by visiting too close together will negate going to all these measures. There’s no rulebook that says you have to celebrate Thanksgiving on the federal holiday if that makes the most sense to accommodate gathering safely!

If you don’t already follow her, Laurel (@kinggutterbaby) is an actual COVID researcher working in Atlanta. She is extremely active on her Instagram, and has been sharing all kinds of helpful information on her page since the pandemic started. Highly recommend following. It was funny that a week after sending the above guidelines to my family, I see this story from her. Needless to say, I was pleased with myself. 😉

And with that: please be safe, wear a mask, and wash your hands!

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Heck yeah, let's get it done!!