Thanksgiving 2020 is right around the corner and we can’t wait to celebrate – we can practically smell the turkey and taste the pumpkin pie! As COVID-19 continues to circulate through our community, Buncombe County Health and Human Services is here to keep you, your family, and your friends safe during the holiday season. Remember, one of the major symptoms of COVID-19 is loss of taste or smell and we don’t want you to miss out on enjoying the coveted Thanksgiving feast. Follow the simple steps below to slow the spread of coronavirus and promote safety in our community can make this the most memorable Thanksgiving yet.
Sharing a meal with loved ones is a cherished Thanksgiving tradition that can certainly be maintained this year with some precautions. This year, we strongly recommend that you spend the holiday and enjoy dinner with only people who live in your household. Preparing traditional recipes and delivering them to neighboring friends and family, in a way that does not involve contact with others, can also be a fun activity to express thanks in a safe way.
If you are considering spending time with people outside of your household, hosting or attending a small socially distanced outdoor dinner is your best bet for reducing risk. In general, we recommend spending as much time as possible outside when interacting with other guests, wearing a mask and keeping 6 feet of distance between each other. If an outdoor dinner is not feasible and you do decide on hosting or attending a Thanksgiving celebration indoors with people outside of your household, take great care and consider vulnerable family members when planning. If possible, come to an agreement with your guests to avoid contact with people to the best of their ability for 14 days before the gathering.
If you are spending time indoors on Thanksgiving Day, consider the following:
- Practice the 3Ws (Wear, Wait, Wash) both indoors and outdoors
- Wear a face covering at all times when not eating or drinking
- Wait 6 feet apart from others
- Wash your hands regularly
- Keep windows open or crack a window every so often to increase ventilation
- Limit the number of people attending your gathering
- Enforce mask wearing and good hygiene practices when preparing and serving food
- Use disposable utensils and dishes
- Have one person serve all the food and avoid self-serve food
- Separate people to eat at different tables or in different rooms
- Designate someone to clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces every so often
Remember, the combination of mask-wearing AND social distancing is key to limiting exposure. You want to follow as many of these safety practices as close as possible in order to build layers of protection around yourself and your loved ones.
We know that Thanksgiving is usually the time for reuniting with family and friends that may live in different parts of the country. This year, we strongly recommend that households stay home and connect with each other virtually. Even though you and your travelling buddies may feel fine and not experience symptoms, you can still spread COVID-19 to others for 14 days after being exposed to the virus. Before deciding to travel consider the following:
- Compare COVID-19 case trends between your state and the state you hope to visit. Check out this handy tool where you can compare state trends!
- Do you or someone you live with have an increased chance of developing severe COVID-19 illness? Even though data shows that anyone is susceptible to developing serious COVID related illness, we need to consider the people in our community that are at increased risk, including older adults and people with certain underlying health conditions.
- Does the state you are travelling to have any travel requirements or restrictions for visitors?
If you or your loved ones decide to travel in and out of Buncombe County, please follow these safety measures to protect yourself and your community:
- Practice the 3Ws (Wear, Wait, Wash)
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Use the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool, developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology, to determine the risk of at least one person being COVID-19 positive at an event in a county, considering the size of the event. You can use the slider to adjust for event size and then zoom in to view information for a county. For example, if you have a gathering in Buncombe County with 20 people today, there is a 19% chance that at least one person will be COVID-19 positive at the event. The variation of risk across the country is vast, which is another reason Buncombe County Health and Human Services strongly discourages travel this holiday season.
Our number one priority is to keep you, your loved ones, and our community safe during your festive, end of year celebrations. We are thankful for the strength our community has shown throughout this trying time. With your help, we can continue to slow the spread of coronavirus while still having a fun and fulfilling holiday.