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Health Officials Urge Changes For Thanksgiving Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

(University of Utah Health)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With Thanksgiving just a week away, medical officials said the holiday has the potential to be the biggest super spreader event of the coronavirus pandemic because of all the virus already in the community.

They have suggested modifications and alternatives to traditional celebrations. Some Utah families have already modified their plans to keep safe.

“We are staying home,” said Salt Lake City resident Tracy Major. “We are going to be with my folks – my mom and my dad and then my boyfriend – and we all live together. We’ve kind of quarantined together, so we are just going to have a small family affair and Skype with friends and family.”

Major and her family planned exactly what doctors hoped for. They want families to gather only if they are part of the same household, meaning they are living and sleeping under one roof consistently.

As of Wednesday, health officials estimated there were over 53,000 active COVID-19 cases in the state, and doctors were worried about numbers two weeks after the holiday.

“Thanksgiving has the potential to be the scariest one yet, because there is so much disease in our community right now that the chances of somebody coming into your home that has the disease is pretty high,” said Dr. Andy Pavia, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah.

Being indoors among more people increases the threat of spread, which was why Dr. Pavia and other doctors have urged alternative ways to be thankful and modify plans.

“(Celebrations) clearly should not, by rule, be more than 10 people, and the smaller the better,” said Dr. Emily Spivak, associate professor of the Division of Infectious Diseases. “Really think on distancing you can maintain. I would also advocate for masks all the time whether inside or outside of your gathering.”

Major said they did not plan on their usual large gathering with friends and extended family.

“We would rather do this now than have to do it next year again, you know,” she said.

Additional ways doctors suggest embracing Thanksgiving safely is by engaging with neighbors by dropping off a pie or cooking with a family member or friend while on a Zoom call.

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