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Planning ahead for Thanksgiving during Covid-19

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SALT LAKE CITY — This week the CDC released some guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving during the era of COVID-19 as people start to think ahead to the holiday.

People wonder whether they can travel or what they can do safely during the pandemic.

The CDC advises against having a big meal with lots of people. Instead, they suggest dinner with your immediate family, or connecting virtually with others.

The department says decisions should be made based on the community risk, the size of the group, the length of the event, and the location.

No matter what your decision is this holiday season, the way families choose to celebrate could create some tension between families. Some folks may want to remain isolated, others may want to gather with everyone. Some family members may want to stay away, others say they should be together. 

One way to help quell the potential storm, have those conversations sooner rather than later.

“People need to have these conversations now,” said Afton January with Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services.

January says if you are going to be with older adults, it is critical to follow the guidelines of physical distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands, and refraining from hugs.

“There’s a great potential for spikes in numbers to increase, so extra caution is important,” she said.

But January said grandparents and older adults still have their agency and will make their own decisions.

“Those of us who have parents who are aging have this philosophical shift where we think we are their parent and they are our child. But they are still adults as they get older and we need to respect their autonomy,” she said.

January suggested being creative for the holiday this year. Some families could self-quarantine for 14 days before meeting for dinner. Others may do a drive-in Thanksgiving. Or have small groups of family members at different houses instead of all in one. People in warmer climates can eat outdoors.

And, she adds, all of these ideas can apply to other holidays and religious observances this fall, not just Thanksgiving.


RELATED: How is COVID-19 going to affect Halloween? Well, the CDC says the two don’t mix. Guest hosts Jason Lee and Mary Richards discuss how their guidance will impacts families getting into the spirit of spooky season.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus during Thanksgiving or any other time

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States