Over the last week, over 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported daily in the State of Iowa and unfortunately, cases continue to increase across the State. Going into the Thanksgiving Holiday there are a number of things you should consider. The SAFEST way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with and gatherings with family and friends not in your household increases the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19.
Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year. If you are considering traveling for Thanksgiving, here are some important questions to ask of yourself and your loved ones before getting together.
These questions may help when making your decision to travel over the Holiday weekend.
* Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at an increased risk (pre-existing conditions, compromised immune system, etc.) from COVID-19? * Are cases high or increasing in your community or your destination? If you are in Black Hawk County or traveling to other Iowa counties, this is almost certainly the case).
* Are hospitals in your community or your destination overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19?
* Does your home or destination have additional requirements or restrictions for travelers?
* During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people that have tested positive for COVID-19?
* Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or air, which might make social distancing apart, staying 6 feet apart difficult?
* Are you traveling with people who do not live with you?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you should consider making other plans, such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying your travel until a less risky time. It is important to talk with the people you live with and your family and friends about the risks of traveling for Thanksgiving.
If you absolutely MUST host or attend a gathering over the Holiday, please consider the following safeguards:
* Wear a mask with two or more layers to help protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19.
* Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
* Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.
* Remember that people without symptoms may be able to spread COVID-19 or flu.
* Keeping 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others is especially important for those that are at higher risk for infection.
* 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 a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
If you choose to host or attend a gathering, do your best make your celebration safer. In addition to following the steps already mentioned to make Thanksgiving safer, take these additional steps if you are hosting attending a Thanksgiving gathering:
* Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils and encourage your guests to do so as well.
* Wear a mask and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
* Avoid going in and out of the high traffic 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 items like food containers, plates, and utensils.
* Consider having a small meal outdoors (weather permitting, of course) with family and friends who live in your community.
* Limit the number of guests.
* 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, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window. This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows.
* If sharing food consider having single person plate food for the gathering. This person should frequently wash their hands, be free of symptoms and consider wearing additional PPE like a mask, gloves and apron.
Host a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends and family who do not live with you.
* Schedule a time to share a meal together virtually.
* Have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing, or other dishes they prepared.
* Watch Thanksgiving Day parades, sports, and movies at home.
* Find a fun game to play.
* Shop online sales the day after Thanksgiving and days leading up to the winter holidays.
* Use contactless services for purchased items, like curbside pick-up.
* Shop in open-air markets staying 6 feet away from others and wear a mask.
* 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).
* Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family.