COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Despite the pandemic, many are still gathering to celebrate with their loved ones this year.
“If you are feeling fine and you choose to go home, knowing that you’ve been somewhere else and now you’re coming back into your household where maybe you have a mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, older aunts and uncles, you may do well to make sure you’re wearing a mask," said Angela Clendenin, who is with Texas A&M School of Public Health. "In the house, make sure you’re washing your hands frequently, you’re sanitizing surfaces and try to stay more than six feet away from the older people in your family because the last thing you want is to be the one who brought COVID into the house."
Although Thanksgiving this year may not be as hands-on and interactive as years before, it is important to maintain these health protocols.
“If you’re having a buffet, it’s just like restaurants these days. Don’t have everybody go to the buffet separately, but have somebody with the mask on dishing out the family dishes," said Dr. Marci Ory, who is with the Texas A&M School of Public Health. "That will help you stay safer. So think about not only the social interactions, but think about the interactions around food. If you’re at home and you’re able, keep the windows open, keep the doors open, those are some of the safety hints that will help you enjoy the holidays more safely."
You might want to change up the usual dish and silverware that you use this year as well.
“Some of the things you can do around eating is use plastic utensils, use paper plates, use paper cups, things that are disposable and not something that people can pick up on accident and drink from after another or eat after one another, that don’t have to be washed,” said Clendenin.
If you are gathering with your family and friends during this time, both health experts remind you to keep up the same health practices
“It’s to be safe, to understand that it’s important to follow these public health practices, and if somebody in your family is saying 'oh you don’t need to wear a mask, we’re all family, say “but mom, I love you.' In fact, engaging in these best public health practices means you do love your family, so it’s setting these expectations so people will understand why you are doing the kinds of things you are doing,” said Dr. Ory
If you cannot see your family this year, Dr. Ory advised reaching out to them to have a virtual thanksgiving.
In addition to these tips, the CDC also advises you to limit the number of people gathered together at one time, and to use touchless trash cans if possible.