Coronavirus cases in the United States are already at record highs — and health experts are concerned that indoor Thanksgiving celebrations that gather people from different areas of the country could lead to even more spread of the disease.
Infectious disease experts and public officials have already urged families to cancel their gatherings, instead advising that they only celebrate with the members of their household.
Doctors plead: 'Stay home for Thanksgiving' as COVID cases surgeNov. 18, 202005:40
If you're determined to celebrate with a traditional get-together this year, there are some things you can do in advance to help lower risk. Having your household and all guests quarantine for at least 14 days before the holiday is a good place to start. Handwashing and cleaning frequently touched surfaces can also help, as can hosting celebrations outside — or in well-ventilated spaces — and trying to keep at least six feet of distance between guests who live in different households.
Experts also say that wearing a mask during your celebration can help mitigate the spread between anyone gathering.
“Whenever you have someone who is coming into your home that's not a member of your immediate household, they should wear a mask, you should wear a mask, you and whoever else is in the house should wear the mask,” Dr. Soniya Gandhi, associate chief medical officer at Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital in California, told TODAY in September. “You don't know if that person is infectious — people can be asymptomatic and can still transmit the virus. Wearing masks and maintaining as much physical distance as possible when somebody is coming into your home are the cornerstones of trying to mitigate the risk of transmission.”
Even if you're seeing family who live outside your household, you should still wear masks as much as possible.
“There's an assumption that because people are family outside of your immediate household, that maybe you somehow have less risk. That's unfortunately just not true,” Gandhi said.
When wearing masks or other face coverings, follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure that you're wearing it effectively: The mask should be made of at least two layers of fabric, should fit snugly against the sides of your face and should be worn over the nose and mouth.