It’s as tough to swallow as dry stuffing: In 2020, the safest Thanksgiving is one spent at home only with immediate family. But for those who plan to gather, experts at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation offer advice to minimize the risk of taking Covid-19 home along with your leftovers.
1. Mask up
“It’s no different than the grocery store or your office. If you’ll be around people you don’t live with, wear a mask,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D., adding that testing beforehand isn’t a get-out-of-masking-free card. “Tests can only tell us about a point in time. They aren’t a guarantee of a Covid-free event.”
2. Less is more
Every additional person represents an additional risk of infection, so keep the headcount as low as possible. “Think of this holiday season as a sacrifice and an investment in spending future holidays with the folks you love,” said OMRF physician-scientist Eliza Chakravarty, M.D.
3. Go alfresco
Studies show significantly lower Covid-19 transmission rates when people are outside. “Eat on the back patio or open the windows to increase ventilation. Even a light wind makes a big difference in dispersing viral particles,” said Chakravarty, noting that it’s also an opportunity to get active.
“Rather than cramming onto the couch to watch the game, try throwing the football around outside or taking a long family walk,” she said. “Those are healthy activities that also carry an extremely low chance of transmission.”
4. Please (don’t) pass the turkey
Building your Thanksgiving plate — or plates — is always fun, but instead of family-style dining or a buffet, Prescott recommends bringing your own food or designating one family member to plate everyone’s meal.
“This avoids cramming together around the serving table and everyone touching the same utensils,” he said. “And by the same token, opt for single-use items wherever possible. You’ll avoid lots of folks touching dirty dishes and a crowd in the kitchen when it’s time to clean up.”
5. Choose the nuclear option
When you do sit down for your meal, experts suggest setting up several small tables and sitting with only your nuclear family when the masks come off.
“Yes, they’re the same faces you’ve seen day-in, day-out since March,” said Chakravarty. “But rest assured this is not the new normal; vaccines are on the way. And that’s something we can all be thankful for.”