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Large Thanksgiving get-togethers discouraged amid coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 9:23 AM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 12:56:30-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and if you plan to gather with family members, you should be in quarantine now.

That’s the advice of health experts.

In order to safely visit friends or family for the holiday, you should be in quarantine for 14 days and then get tested.

READ: Despite pandemic, majority of Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving, data indicates

Hannah Imlay is an assistant professor of infectious diseases at University of Utah Health.

She says quarantining can help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

“Quarantining we mean, as much as you possibly can, not seeing other people.” Imlay said. “If you can work from home, working from home, avoiding any casual social gatherings which in general we should be avoiding anyway by the governor's mandate and just generally common sense.”

She says wearing a mask is key to helping mitigate the spread of the disease.

“Wearing masks when you’re in public or with really anyone inside or outside who doesn’t live in the same house with you,” Imlay said. “That includes when grocery shopping, when leaving your house for errands as well.”

For those who choose to quarantine, what is the best day to test?

Imlay says as close to Thanksgiving Day as possible to give yourself enough time to get results – especially if you are traveling.

There is a caveat. Testing doesn’t capture all cases and testing may not be available.

Imlay stresses your best bet if you do want to be around family, is to quarantine now.

Large gatherings could be a mute point in Utah if Utah’s current state of emergency is extended beyond Nov. 23, because it mandates that people only interact with those living in the same home.

Utah's emergency health order restricts get-togethers of any size, and people are only supposed to interact with people inside their own homes. The public health order is set to expire three days before Thanksgiving on Nov. 23, but it could be extended.

Governor Herbert says he's working on recommendations for how Utahns should handle the holiday and stay safe and is expected to release them next week.

According to a new national survey from researchers at Ohio State University, about two out of five people say they'll probably have a Thanksgiving get-together with more than ten guests.

A third of those surveyed say they won't ask their guests to wear a mask.

READ: Tips for keeping everyone safe from COVID-19 this holiday season

If people crowd into houses, don’t wear masks, and don't wash their hands frequently, an infectious disease doctor predicts there will be another spike in cases.

“I would expect that to happen for these reasons because social distancing is impossible in that setting,” Dr. Larry Bush said. “There will be a spike, the question is will that spike translate to a spike in hospital admissions and deaths and it really depends who gets infected."

Declining an invitation is never easy. If you opt out of an invitation, etiquette experts say to explain to your host that it’s a personal choice, based on science, and doesn’t have anything to do with them.

You can also suggest attending virtually. Many families are planning to celebrate Thanksgiving together via options like Zoom and Facebook Live.