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It’s finally time to celebrate the holidays together … or not

Family dinner
Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings will likely look different this year – and many may not happen at all – due to the pandemic. (Source: Adobe Stock)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently poured cold water on the Thanksgiving plans of many families, warning that holding even small holiday celebrations with loved ones may put Americans at increased risk for contracting COVID-19. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and now-controversial White House advisor, backed up that warning with a public announcement that his own children won’t be coming home for Thanksgiving this year because of the risk. “You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering,” Fauci advised as cases of the virus continue to spike in many areas … including Missouri, where hospitalizations and deaths hit a new record in October.

However, deciding whether to host or attend a particular Thanksgiving celebration or other holiday gathering remains in the hands of each individual and family. Following are guidelines the CDC has provided to help people make those decisions. 

• Number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with a few, although the CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees. Instead, the size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact and virus spread between attendees along with state and local safety regulations.

• Food and drinks – Self-serve bars or meals served buffet style pose more risk to attendees.

• Community levels of COVID-19 –Family and friends should consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in their own community and, just as importantly, in the communities their guests are coming from. 

• The location and duration of the gathering – Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings – for indoor gathering, keeping windows and doors open to increase ventilation can help to decrease risk. Gatherings that last several hours also pose more risk than shorter ones.

• The behaviors of guests prior to the gathering – People who are generally not adhering to social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, and other preventive behaviors pose more risk and should potentially be left off the guest list, as should those who refuse to follow these behavior rules during the gathering.

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