Should I change my Thanksgiving plans?

Unfortunately, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to limit your in-person gathering to the people that you regularly live with. In the US, we are currently experiencing some of the highest daily case counts—and the fastest rate of increasing cases—that we’ve ever seen.

 

Is there a completely safe way to gather in person?

 

No, because all travel and gathering involves some risk of catching or spreading COVID. But if you intend to travel and visit family over the holidays, the safest thing to do is for everyone to complete a strict 14-day quarantine before getting together. Traveling by car is safer than by plane. 

 

Taking a COVID test in the days before your Thanksgiving dinner isn’t a foolproof way to prevent yourself from getting or spreading COVID. Recently, a CDC study showed a case where five families (14 people) came together for a getaway. One of the teens got a negative rapid test result before the gathering, but still infected 11 other family members. How does this happen? A test will come back positive only if there is enough virus in your body at the moment of the test. So if you recently got infected, before your body has made many copies of the virus, it might be too soon to get a positive test result.

 

If you do plan to get together, the safest options are to stay outside, avoid places where you can’t maintain six feet of distance, and keep those masks on when not eating. Your prevention adds up; the more precautions you take, the lower your risk will be. The chart below can help you reduce your risk by choosing the lowest-risk options when it comes to people, place, time, and space.  (And don’t forget to cover your face.)

COVID-101 Thanksgiving Advice: This chart can help you reduce your risk by choosing the lowest-risk options when it comes to people, place, time, and space. Your prevention adds up; the more precautions you take, the lower your risk will be.

 

At COVID-101, our usual approach to life in this pandemic is to get creative and imagine a new way to go about our usual life. However, given the rapid spread of COVID in the US right now, we’re recommending to all our friends and family that they should stay home this year. Undaunted, I’m determined to roast my best turkey ever, even if it’s just for my household.

 

Last update: November 13, 2020, 5:59 pm ET

Science review: BK