How to Safely Celebrate Thanksgiving During the Pandemic

Family on video call for thanksgiving 2020

Like much of 2020, the holidays will look very different this year. While we might not be able to host our usual traditions, there are opportunities to make new family memories amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why you should adjust your Thanksgiving plans this year

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 252,000 Americans already, and, based on current trends, it is predicted another 2,100 will lose their battle with the disease each day this winter. The month of December alone is expected to see more COVID deaths than March and April.

The U.S. is headed for the darkest days of the pandemic during the winter months and holiday season. Experts are advising families to do their part and change Thanksgiving plans to avoid a significant post-holiday surge. The strongest and safest recommendation is to only celebrate with those in your household.

Guidelines for a safe Thanksgiving

Household celebrations: To limit the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending Americans only celebrate within their household. More than 1 million new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the last seven days across the country. Celebrating with only those in your household is the best way to avoid getting or spreading COVID-19 and the flu. Have a college student coming home? Henry Ford Health System recommends having them get a COVID-19 test, among other precautionary measures.

Virtual Thanksgiving: Coordinate a virtual Thanksgiving with family so everyone can connect digitally from their respective households. Free programs such as Google Meet, Google Duo, Skype, and Facebook Messenger can be utilized. Pick a time, send everyone a link in advance, and enjoy Thanksgiving festivities remotely.

Drop off Thanksgiving dinner: For family members who live alone, don’t enjoy cooking, or may not be able to afford an elaborate Thanksgiving spread, consider bringing dinner to them. It is safe to drop off a meal at the front door for your loved ones can enjoy.

Small in-person gatherings: If you plan to attend or host a gathering, follow recommendations from the State of Michigan and the CDC to keep everyone safe. This includes:

    • No more than 10 people from two households.
    • Proper social distancing.
    • Requiring masks, especially around the food.
    • Establishing the kitchen as an off-limit zone for guests.
    • Designate one person to serve everyone.
    • Wash hands frequently.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
    • If the weather cooperates, celebrate outside. If you must stay inside, open windows to maximize air flow.
    • Communicate these safety expectations ahead to time to avoid surprises.

Be flexible and understanding: For those attending family gatherings, be flexible with your plans. Pay attention to recent spikes in your community as well as hospital capacity and be willing to change your plans last minute if it helps keep your loved ones safe. For those hosting gatherings, be respectful and understanding of family who may not feel comfortable attending.

No one wants to miss out on much needed quality time with loved ones, but it is our civic duty to do everything we can to keep the rest of our community safe. Be safe and celebrate responsibly this Thanksgiving.