By Dawn Quaderer
Community Health Director LCO Health Center
Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are for giving thanks and making memories, but this year the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 can dampen spirits. I know, at Lac Courte Oreilles, family connections are strong.
Following these tips will help to make your Thanksgiving holiday and your loved ones safer. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer. Everyone can do their part to make Thanksgiving safer for all. Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19. Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin. Make sure the mask is snug against the sides of your face. Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you, remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread COVID-19. Keeping 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk, such as our elders and those who are immune-compromised, of getting very sick. Store your mask safely while enjoying your meal. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
In addition to following these easy steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer, these next additional steps (a little more effort makes a big difference in keeping you and your loved ones safe) while attending/hosting a Thanksgiving gathering will help. Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils. Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen. Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets and disposable food containers, plates and utensils. If having guests to your home, be sure that people follow the steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer. Limit the number of guests and have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use. If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows (if not too cold out). Limit the number of people in food preparation areas. Have guests bring their own food and drink. If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils. Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation. Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not in your household. Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth. Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
Thanksgiving travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you do travel, check travel restrictions before you go. Get your flu shot before you travel. Consider other Thanksgiving activities by hosting a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends and family who don’t live with you. Schedule a time to share a meal together virtually and have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing, or other dishes they prepared. This would be a great time to make videos for treasured memories! Online Black Friday shopping the day after Thanksgiving and days leading up to the winter holidays is so much easier (and safer!). Use contactless services for purchased items, like curbside pick-up.
If elders or disabled individuals in your family or community cannot travel and are homebound, safely prepare traditional dishes and deliver them to family and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others (for example, leave them on the porch).
Participating in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family, will help get us all through the sting of Covid. A little inconvenient right now, but together we can beat this! Happy Thanksgiving to all!!