When it comes to the risks of the coronavirus, we are not out of the woods in the United States. Not even close. According to data compiled by Covidexitstrategy.org. the majority of the country is experiencing “uncontrolled spread” of the virus — with more than 150 new infections a day per one million people (and at least 220,000 reported deaths so far). So, as we leave behind the summer months (and the warm temperatures that make outdoor gatherings fun and do-able) and get closer to the holiday season where too many Americans will undoubtedly want to continue to try and perform “normal,” our health experts are already cautioning families to consider how they can keep themselves and others safe. (Not just for Halloween, but for Thanksgiving too!)
And, look, it may not be what you want to hear: But a traditional indoor family gathering (even a small one) may not be the safe move for the holidays in 2020.
“Understanding that everyone has this traditional emotional understandable warm feeling about the holidays and bringing a group of people, friends and family, together in their house indoors, that’s understandable, but we really have to be careful this time,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with Good Morning America late last week. “Each individual family evaluate the risk-benefit of doing that, particularly when you have people coming in from out of town who may have been on airplanes, in airports to just come into the house.”
Fauci himself said his own children won’t be making the trek for the holidays for safety reasons and that it’s one of the decisions his family needed to make:”If you have vulnerable people, the elderly or people with underlying conditions, you better consider whether you want to do that now or maybe just forestall it and just wait and say, ‘you know, this is an unfortunate and unusual situation, I may not want to take the risk.”
This also comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield shared with governors on Tuesday that “small household gatherings” were appearing to be part of the equation for explaining the surge in cases — because indoor situations with poor ventilation and a number of unmasked individuals breathing on each other (or yelling or laughing) are considered high-risk.
“What we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings,” Redfield said. “Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”
There are plenty of ways to think out-of-the-box for thanksgiving gatherings in 2020. Experts recommend trying to find digital ways to connect with loved ones who can’t be with you and for smaller, outdoor events (a meal on a covered porch with heaters and following the CDC’s gathering guidelines) with people in your “bubble” and community can be ways to still celebrate the season without putting the ones you love at risk.
Before you go, check out our favorite face masks to keep kids safe in the pandemic: