We have searched without luck for a health expert who will assure us it is safe to gather with friends and family this Thanksgiving. But Colorado health officials say the wisest course is to stay home.
“The best way to ensure that those who mean the most to us – especially older family members or those at increased risk – will still be gathered around our tables and giving thanks next year is to stay apart from them this year,” Dr. Bill Burman, executive director of Denver Public Health, and Dr. John Douglas Jr., executive director of the Tri-County Health Department wrote in a recent op-ed for The Denver Post.
And yet, people will travel to see loved ones and try to keep lonely relatives from spending the day alone. With that in mind, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued some guidance, but with this warning: “If you must attend an in-person celebration with other households, know that you are putting yourself, your family, and your community at risk.”
Here is their guidance:
- Interact with just one other household with 10 or fewer total guests.
- Eat dinner outside where airflow makes transmission less likely. (The current forecast for Denver calls for a high in the low 50s)
- Wear a mask and keep 6 feet from anyone who doesn’t live with you.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently.
- Designate a food server who wears a mask while filling guests’ plates. Avoid buffet-style serving.
- Have each household bring and eat their own food from home.
- Quarantine for 14 days before interacting with another household and 14 days after returning home.
For those traveling:
- Quarantine for 14 days before visiting and 14 days after returning home.
- Wear a mask and maintain 6-foot distances
- Wash your hands frequently, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Open windows to improve ventilation on buses, trains, or shared cars.
- Postpone or cancel your travel if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 in the 14 days before your travel. You should get tested as soon as you develop symptoms or seven days after you think you have been exposed.
- Cancel your plans if you or your traveling companions test positive or develop symptoms.
If you’re looking for more information or articles as you plan for the holiday, check out this column by Sue McMillin who writes about the hard decision she made and urges grace as everyone struggles with celebrating. Bill St. John offered up his thoughts on how to fix a turkey dinner for one.
CDPHE has a “myth vs reality” chart that can also help as you navigate your decisions. And the CDC has created its own guidance, which includes having conversations with your guests in advance about expectations for the day.
Have a happy, safe Thanksgiving, Colorado.
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