Thanksgiving: Setting the Precedent for Holidays in 2020

The 2020 pandemic has thrown a wrench in many of our plans thus far, and it has now come the time to decide how we’re going to handle the holiday season with the looming threat of the virus. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are probably going to look a bit different this year for the sake of keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe. 

People around America are accustomed to the tradition of having a large family gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving. These types of indoor gatherings that typically involve multiple households, drinking, and celebrating, are very high risk for spreading the virus. Because of this, the CDC is recommending that gatherings be limited to only members of your immediate household. However, as college students, many of us will be returning to our family homes for the holidays, even though it would probably be best to stay put. With this in mind, there are some precautions to take if you are planning on visiting family this holiday season, especially if any of them belong to a vulnerable population.

Family cooking together Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

According to Lauren Kucirka, an Epidemiologist and OB-GYN resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital, it is best to quarantine yourself for 14 days before meeting with an at-risk individual. This being a little impractical for many people, she recommends at least getting a COVID-19 test designed to test for active infection 5 days after any possible exposure and then be extremely careful for the few days leading up to your appointment. It is probably best to take this course of action before gathering with loved ones for Thanksgiving as well, to minimize the chances that you will spread the virus.

microscopic image of the coronavirus Photo by CDC from Unsplash

The CDC, in acknowledgment that many people are still going to have gatherings involving more than one household, has set forth many more recommendations for how to best stay safe while hosting or visiting family. Some of these recommendations are already familiar to us and are what we should be practicing on a daily basis- staying 6 feet apart from people who are not members of our households and wearing a mask at all times except for when eating.  Other recommendations more specific to holiday gatherings include gathering outdoors (yet still requiring guests to wear masks when not eating), increasing ventilation by keeping windows and doors open if the weather permits, encouraging guests to avoid singing and shouting, and more. 

Illustration by Canva

I strongly implore you to read these recommendations. If you are planning to have a gathering this holiday season with multiple households, it’s empirical to make a plan which will minimize the risk of spreading the virus to loved ones. Also, implore them to take precautions that will keep YOU safe. Let’s do our best to make it out of this holiday season alive and well.