If you insist on gathering for Thanksgiving, experts have tips for how to make it safer

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February 07 2021 05:30 pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health experts openly recommend closing the door to visitors this Thanksgiving. Some people say they plan on getting together and “celebrating safely.” But is that possible?

“The risk is that your Thanksgiving celebration could be a super spreader event,” said Jinny Boos, director of infection prevention at St. Luke’s Health System.

This year, the safest way to do Thanksgiving is to not gather.

“The risks are just too high,” Boos said.

Despite the risks, if people are dead set on celebrating with others they don’t live with, she said there are ways to minimize the potential spread.

First, how are guests getting there? Hopefully not by bus or a ride-share service that increases risk of exposure.

As a host, Bose suggests:

  • Provide paper towels, not cloth towels or napkins
  • Serve food individually, not buffet style where people are lined up, shoulder to shoulder
  • Don’t have more than 10 people at the table
  • Think about the seating arrangement

“Try not to seat someone who might be more of an at-risk population across from a college student who just coming back from the campus,” Boos said.

Get creative with social distancing. Open windows, set up food stations and seating outside and increase circulation in the house. 

Boos said it’s not too much to ask others to get tested for COVID-19 before coming over. Even then, a negative test doesn’t mean you’re safe. 

“If the test is negative, that’s a pretty good assurance, but it’s not guaranteed. It’s not absolute,” Boos explained. “We know that people can be tested one day and develop symptoms the next day.”

Be highly suspicious of any flu or cold-like symptoms, and don’t attend if you have them. 

Boos said people’s super spreader Thanksgivings are a big concern.

Hospitals across the Kansas City metro are being stretched to the limit. Right now, St. Luke’s Health System has about 199 COVID-19 patients. 

The KCMO Health Department said nearly one in every two people tested for COVID-19 are infected.

“Why do we have people that continue to act as if this is regular time, normal time?” Boos asked. “Why do we have to learn from having personal experience rather than learning from others and changing our behaviors?”

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