LEE COUNTY, Fla. — With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, many of us are having to make the tough decision of whether to expand our circle to gather with loved ones.
But this year, health officials say it’s better to scale back over concerns of the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s been a tough year, and everyone wants to get together with their family, and we completely understand, but we just need to make sure we do it safely,” said Robert Hawkes, Director of the Physician Assistant Program at Florida Gulf Coast University.
With a surge of COVID-19 cases across the country, new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control suggest keeping gatherings small, celebrating with only those in your household.
“One person could come in who may be positive and spread it to a large number of people, and they, after the festivities are over, disperse and go to different areas,” said Hawkes.
Hawkes says travel alone could be a problem.
"Certainly, as we travel across the country, either by ground or by air, I think that’s certainly going to increase the risk of potential spread of COVID-19,” said Hawkes.
If you plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, the CDC suggests taking extra steps to make your celebration safer.
Wear a face mask
The mask should cover your mouth, nose and fit securely under your chin. It should be worn at all times, except for when eating or drinking.
Stay at least 6 feet away from guests.
It's important to remember that you don't have to have symptoms to spread the virus. Asymptomatic carriers can spread COVID-19, as we've seen in past super spreader events.
Wash your hands
Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you cannot do so, you should have hand sanitizer with at last 60% alcohol nearby.
Attending a gathering
Bringing your own food and utensils to the feast is another safe option. Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
Hosting a Thanksgiving gathering
Hosting a dinner outside with a small group of people would allow for easy ventilation. If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows to keep fresh flowing.
Finally, if you plan to travel, check restrictions before you go.
Some states require testing negative for COVID-19 before arriving.
"However, you need to remember that you may have taken the test 72-hours ago, but you may have come into contact with it in the past couple of hours," said Hawkes, “I think the important thing is if someone is sick, I think they need to not go to the festivities as much as they may want to.”