ORANGE PARK – Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the year. It is almost here and COVID-19 can be an unwanted guest if families do not take precautions. If you are gathering a large family …
ORANGE PARK – Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the year. It is almost here and COVID-19 can be an unwanted guest if families do not take precautions. If you are gathering a large family around the dinner table next week, an Orange Park Medical Center physician has advice on how to do that as safely as possible.
People who are at higher risk for severe illness or live with someone at increased risk should not attend large in person Thanksgiving gatherings. If you or an immediate family member has recently tested positive for COVID-19 or are waiting for test results, it is recommended you do not host or participate in family gatherings. Visit the CDC website for guidance on when it is safe to be around others after testing positive for COVID-19.
“There are a few questions that everyone needs to ask themselves before deciding to gather around the table this year,” says Dr. Nilmarie Guzman, Infectious Disease Specialist at Orange Park Medical Center. Here’s a quick checklist:
What are your community levels of COVID-19? Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. If you are in an area with increased cases it is recommended to limit gathers.
Where is the gathering? Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor ones. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation.
How long is the gathering? Longer gatherings pose more risk.
How many people will be there? Gatherings with more people pose more risk than those with fewer people. CDC recommends determining the size of the gathering based on the ability for attendees to remain six feet apart.
What were the behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering? Gatherings with attendees who are not adhering to social distancing (staying at least six feet apart), mask wearing, hand washing and other preventative behaviors pose more risk than gatherings with attendees who are engaging in these preventative behaviors.
What are the behaviors of attendees? Gatherings with more preventive measures, such as mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing, in place pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures.
Dr. Guzman says guests should consider wearing a mask and be mindful of social distancing when possible. Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items. Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer.
If you are hosting this year’s festivities, you may want to consider moving the party outdoors if weather allows or, open doors and windows to increase airflow. “This may be the year to set a limit on the number of guests and perhaps try and keep the list local,” said Dr. Guzman.
To determine your travel risk visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-risk.html.
Getting your flu shot is also recommended by the CDC to avoid the spreading of influenza this holiday season.