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Doctors urge Utahns to stay home for Thanksgiving

Posted at 10:10 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 09:32:36-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A warning from public health experts is unanimous: People are safer at home with immediate family on Thanksgiving, even when it means missing out on holiday traditions.

“We are tired. We are very, at times, frustrated and angry when we see actions in the community that isn’t in line with public health,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare.

One in three parents plan to gather with extended family this Thanksgiving despite the risks, according to a national poll by Mott Children’s Hospital.

READ: 1 in 3 parents say benefits of gathering at Thanksgiving is worth the risk of coronavirus

“If you congregate with people outside your family, we will have increased transmission of COVID-19. Guaranteed,” said Dr. Stenehjem.

Doctors say roughly one in 70 Utahns have an active infection. In north Orem, it’s closer to one in 40.

So what’s the chance you’ll invite someone with COVID to dinner?

The percentage is around 50 percent when sharing Thanksgiving with fifteen people, according to Georgia Tech and Stanford University. Up in Cache County, the risk is 59 percent. Down in Washington County, 55 percent.

“We know that is going to drive more and more cases and more and more hospitalizations and more and more deaths. Yeah, that gets to us. It’s going to be a long winter,” said Dr. Stenehjem.