Having a safe and happy Thanksgiving

Joseph Spector, John Christensen
The Chronicle-Express, N.Y. State Team

Thanksgiving gatherings a potential ‘superspreader.’ Tips to help avoid the spread of COVID.

Local health departments and state officials are urging residents to keep their Thanksgiving dinners small as a way to curb the spread of coronavirus, fearing large gatherings could become “superspreader” events.

Yates County Public Health makes these recommendations among others for enjoying a safe Thanksgiving holiday.

New York is already reporting daily COVID-19 case totals that haven’t been seen since May, and holiday gatherings could further heighten the surge, officials said.

“I believe this situation is going to continue to deteriorate over the coming weeks,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday. “I think you’ll see an increasing rise in the number of cases.”

New York and New Jersey have both enacted orders that limit private, in-house gatherings to no more than 10 people in advance of the holiday season. New Jersey is breaking daily records of cases already.

“This will not be a normal holiday season, and it’s incumbent on all of us to avoid the type of gatherings that have proven to be particularly dangerous places for COVID-19 to spread,” N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

Yates County Public Health Director Deb Minor says residents should keep their Thanksgiving celebrations small and as safe as possible to reduce the potential spread.

In addition to small gatherings, Minor recommended following these tips:

Bring in fresh air

  • Open the windows – the wider the better and as many as possible – to promote cross-ventilation.
  • Run your kitchen exhaust fan.
  • Invite your guests to wear masks and meet you for a walk, a turkey trot, or a hike in a park.

Leave it to the chef

  • Keep guests out of the kitchen.
  • Avoid passing platters from person to person.
  • Designate one person with gloved hands to serve buffet-style from a central location.
  • Consider making side dishes in single-serving bowls and using single service plates and utensils.

Mask up or stay home

  • Wash or sanitize hands frequently.
  • Have your guests wear a mask unless they are eating or drinking.
  • Remind your guests to stay home if they have even mild symptoms of a cold or fever, are awaiting COVID test results, or are under quarantine or isolation orders.
  • Have your returning college students limit their exposure to others and wear a mask throughout their travel home when around others, whether by plane, train, or car, with windows open.

“It is especially important to keep uninvited germs out of your holiday meal, so wash your hands thoroughly when you arrive and before you take that first bite,” Westchester County Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler said. “Good hand hygiene can help reduce the risk of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses.”