The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week released updated recommendations for Thanksgiving as many Americans weigh how they will celebrate the family-focused holiday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In guidance published Monday, the CDC said virtual gatherings or enjoying the holiday with members of your own household are the safest options this year. In-person gatherings with individuals from other households, including college students returning home from campus, are higher-risk options.
The agency highlighted several factors households should consider before hosting an in-person Thanksgiving gathering. Health officials recommended looking at the rate of coronavirus cases in the area, limiting the amount of guests to as few as possible and limiting physical contact as well.
For in-person gatherings, the CDC encouraged outdoor gatherings “as much as possible,” so long as guests practice social distancing and wear masks when not eating.
The new guidance discouraged “potluck-style gatherings” and suggested guests bring their own food to gatherings. Shopping “on, or after Thanksgiving,” attending spectator events and going to large gatherings with people outside one’s immediate household were all listed as “higher risk activities.”
A key recommendation included ensuring proper ventilation and avoiding gatherings in spaces with poor air flow. The CDC said opening windows and keeping central air conditioning on continuously were two ways to ensure good ventilation.
For colleges and universities holding in-person classes this fall, health officials are concerned about the possible increase in transmission during trips home for the holidays.
The University of Notre Dame recently announced that students would not be allowed to leave town for the holidays unless they received a negative COVID-19 test. If they tested positive, they would be required to self-isolate on campus for two weeks. Failure to comply would result in their class registration being placed on hold.
Coronavirus cases are spiking across the country, with record-breaking numbers reported in the past week. The U.S. broke its record for most cases reported in a single day, with more than 130,000 cases on Sunday.