If you can’t visit family due to the COVID-19 pandemic, host a virtual Thanksgiving dinner instead.
EVANSVILLE, Ind. —The biggest question on almost everyone’s mind this holiday season is how to celebrate safely.
As COVID-19 cases and the number of hospitalizations soar, government leaders across the country are begging residents to stay home this Thanksgiving, including Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Henderson Mayor Steve Austin.
The two held a press conference along with representatives from Deaconess and Ascension St. Vincent hospitals to share their concern that Thanksgiving gatherings could make things much worse in the Tri-state.
Area hospitals have reported consistently hitting 90% capacity and above, which is taking a toll said Deaconess Health System CEO, Shawn McCoy.
“For us, it’s a daily struggle for staffing. We’re at or near capacity almost every day,” McCoy said. “And our job is to get that message to the public that you could do your part. You could social distance. You can wear a mask, and you can prevent those hospitalizations.”
He said 9% of COVID-19 positive patients have been ending up in the hospital.
Holiday celebrations, like Memorial Weekend, have already been linked to spikes in case numbers. The widespread fear is that, at a time when cases are already high, Thanksgiving Day gatherings could cause a surge local hospitals can’t handle.
“Small personal sacrifices will do a lot to get us ahead of this virus. We’ve got to slow down the growth,” Mayor Austin said. “Do it for yourself, or better yet, do it for your friends and others you come into contact with.”
High risk-activities the CDC is recommending people avoid include attending large gatherings, crowded parades, being a spectator in a crowded arena or going shopping in crowded stores.
“This is the year to not get together with your high school buddies, your high school group, and go to a bar, or go running around,” Winnecke said.
“We understand that this next week will be very busy, and the desire will be to get together with your high school classmates to share experiences from the last year. We ask that you, again, make smart decisions and not emotional decisions.”
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How to Have a Safe Thanksgiving
Keep it small
Try to celebrate with only members of your household. If you do invite guests, keep it small and take into consideration whether or not they’ve been part of any high-risk activities. The CDC recommends at gatherings people from different households should remain 6 feet apart. If the weather permits, hold the gathering outside and avoid crowded, poorly ventilated rooms.
Do a virtual Thanksgiving
Use Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or any other video calling app for a virtual celebration. Call up your loved ones while cooking the meal to share recipes and tips. A virtual Thanksgiving can still involve the same traditions. The whole extended family can call in and dine at the same time. You can set up a selfie-stick if using your phone or set your laptop eye-level by using a stand or a stack of books for the best view. Zoom has eliminated its 40-minute time limit for free users on Thanksgiving.
Find new Thanksgiving activities
Replace or alter your favorite traditions to be mindful of COVID-19. Many stores are offering curbside pickup, free delivery and special online deals this year. Instead of shopping in a crowded store, do it online. Watch events like parades or sporting events from your home instead of attending in person. The holiday can still be fun for the whole family by playing games like a scavenger hunt or making crafts.
For the complete CDC guide on how to handle holiday celebrations, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.
If you’re planning on having Thanksgiving dinner outside, here are eight must-haves.
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