Experts: Households Only, Virtual Thanksgiving Gatherings Are Best

CDC Thanksgiving guidelines include hosting gatherings outdoors, avoiding potlucks and shared items like condiments, and requiring masks.
Posted at 4:43 PM, Nov 17, 2020

First, the bad news. If you were planning to quarantine before traveling for Thanksgiving, you’ve missed that 14-day mark. The good news, doctors say there are still ways to keep holiday traditions alive from home. 

“As we approach the Thanksgiving holidays, we are all thinking about how we can get together and try to feel normal,” said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhause of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

When it comes to Thanksgiving, the experts say celebrating virtually or with your immediate household is best — bottom line.However, the CDC has put together guidelines for those who do choose to gather in-person including: hosting the gathering outdoors, avoiding potlucks, encouraging guests to bring food for themselves, avoiding shared items like condiment bottles, and requiring masks for all attendees.

Infectious disease experts say the guidelines don’t eliminate the risk.

“As you take that mask off and talk and eat or drink at the same time, there will still be risk that will occur during that period for the spray of aerosols or droplets,” said Dr. Kelly Cawcutt an Infectious Disease Physician at The University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Ultimately social-distancing this holiday is the safest measure. 

“The next best bet after a virtual gathering is to do the kind of drive by front yard gathering that we did earlier in the pandemic...You can see one another. Exchange those pleasantries. Keep it at a distance with masks on,” suggested Gonsenhaus.

For those who choose a virtual feast, online meeting platform Zoom is waiving its 40 minute limit on free accounts on Thanksgiving Day and expanding the time families can gather safely. 

“It’s not a normal Thanksgiving, it wasn’t a normal Halloween, it won’t be a normal Hannukah or Christmas and 2020 won’t be normal period,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

Across the country, COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise.   Local officials in Michigan, California, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, are among the list of states with newly implemented restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather indoors. 

President-elect Joe Biden is encouraging people to follow the guidelines of small gatherings and masks.  

“I just want to make sure we’re able to get together next Thanksgiving, next Christmas,” said Biden. 

Keep in mind, if you do decide to travel out of state for Thanksgiving, check the local guidelines. A number of states require visitors to quarantine upon arrival. Amber Strong, Newsy.