Staying home this year is what's recommended to keep yourself, your family and your community safe. Here's the latest update from the CDC.

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
Updated November 11, 2020
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Update: November 19, 2020

In light of the recent sharp increase in cases, the CDC has revised their Thanksgiving recommendations this week to remind people that the safest thing they can to is stay home this holiday season. The United States has recorded over 1 million COVID-19 cases in the past 7 days. The CDC recommends only celebrating with people in your household and cancelling travel plans to help reduce the risk of catching or spreading the coronavirus and the flu.

We can all agree that Thanksgiving will look a little different this year. If you are attending a gathering, the CDC does have some tips in their Holiday Celebration Guide to keep it safer, although they recommend cancelling any plans and celebrating virtually.

Original article: November 11, 2020

While COVID fatigue is setting in everywhere, public health experts are urging Americans to stay as safe as possible over Thanksgiving. We may be able to learn from our neighbors to the north as Canadian Thanksgiving was October 12. Canadian health officials urged people to keep celebrations small but despite that guidance, people likely gathered together with family rom outside their household since COVID-19 cases are up in Canada and have been rising steadily since mid-October. A similar spike in cases would have several negative implications for the U.S., where daily case numbers are already much higher than Canada's.

What The CDC Suggests

The CDC has several general recommendations for the holiday season, including Thanksgiving and beyond. They start their guide by suggesting that staying home is the best way to stay safe and to avoid travel, if you can. Some of their specific recommendations are as follows:

  • Stay home as much as possible for the two weeks before and after any gatherings you plan to attend
  • Consider getting tested before and after if it is readily available in your area
  • Keeping dinners outside
  • Opening windows if you're inside
  • Wearing masks when you're not eating or drinking
  • Getting a flu shot
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces

They also recommend that you consider the community levels of COVID-19 for where you are and where you will be traveling to, or where people will be traveling to you from. Some states have restrictions on travel, so do your research beforehand to ensure you are adhering to the most up-to-date guidelines. For those who are celebrating, they break down activities from lowest risk to highest risk.

Lower risk activities

These include having a small dinner with people from your household, having a virtual dinner, shopping online instead of in-person, watching sports at home, and delivering food to family and neighbors (these tips help you deliver safely and contact-free.)

Credit: Getty Images/Maren Caruso

Moderate risk activities

If you choose to travel or get together with family or friends outside of your household, they give suggestions about how to mitigate risk while you're celebrating. They suggest keeping gatherings outdoors with family or friends in your area. They also advise wearing masks, washing hands frequently and bringing your own food.

Higher risk activities

Unfortunately, there are several typical Thanksgiving activities, including a shared meal, that the CDC considers to be high-risk for disease transmission.

Most large or indoor events fall into this category. Crowded parades or races, which are part of some people's Thanksgiving traditions, may be better off skipped this season. Many races and parades are going virtual this year or putting COVID-19 precautions in place.

They also recommend skipping crowded shopping centers on or after Thanksgiving. Many stores will likely extend deals for online shoppers, limit customers in stores for safer shopping or offer curbside pickup.

The CDC also advises against using alcohol or drugs, as they can impair your judgement and make it more difficult to follow safety guidelines. While we know that cutting out alcohol cold turkey (pun intended) may not be totally realistic, it is a good reminder to alternate wine or beer with water to avoid getting ahead of yourself. You could also try one of our delicious mocktail recipes to trick your brain for celebrating without the booze. This will save you from a nasty hangover as well, which is something we can get behind.

Many families typically host large Thanksgiving dinners with people traveling from many different places to attend. As you might have imagined, this is considered a higher-risk activity. There are some ways to help lower the risk, like having people get tested, quarantining before coming, traveling by car when possible, not attending if any symptoms come up and communicating about precautions they've been taking. The CDC is not recommending people have dinner together with family outside of their household.

Bottom Line

Everyone's Thanksgiving holiday is going to look a little different this year. The CDC is recommending everyone stay home to stay safe and find other ways to celebrate virtually with friends and family outside of your household. Armed with these recommendations, we at EatingWell hope you all have a happy, safe and delicious Thanksgiving.