Thanksgiving traditions call for a day of family and friends gathering for food and celebration. It's also one of the busiest travel seasons as people fly and drive to see their loved ones.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its updated guidance around gatherings and traveling.
Minnesota Department of Health’s director of infectious diseases Kris Ehresmann said those planning get-togethers with people from multiple places around the country should take COVID-19 precautions before getting together.
Here are some recommendations to have a safe gathering this Thanksgiving amongst the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Get vaccinated
The CDC said getting fully vaccinated the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safe.
All Minnesotans ages 5 and older are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, with Minnesotans ages five to 17 eligible only for the Pfizer vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine remains free for all those eligible to receive it.
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 remains the strongest measure to limiting the spread of virus.
By getting yourself and family-members who are eligible vaccinated will protect those who are not eligible to get the vaccine, such as young children.
2. Wear a mask in public
In order to gather safely with friends and family, it is important to get precautions against the virus while out in public.
The CDC recommends wearing a well-fitted mask over your mouth and nose in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated.
But those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission, which currently includes all of Minnesota.
When travelling remember that wearing a mask is required on all public transportation for everyone regardless of vaccination status. This includes buses, trains, airplanes and ridesharing vehicles.
3. Stay home if you are sick
The CDC recommends anyone who is sick or has COVID-19 symptoms to stay home and not attend any gatherings.
If sick, it’s recommended not to go to school or work and don’t host or attend a gathering.
4. Get tested for COVID-19
Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
“Getting tested before the holiday gathering is especially important if you have had any symptoms or have been around someone with COVID,” Ehresmann said.
Even if you don’t have symptoms and are fully vaccinated, Ehresmann recommended everyone traveling or hosting gatherings get tested right before the gathering and after any traveling.
5. Consider wearing a mask at the gathering
Wearing a mask while visiting with people outside your household can provide additional precautions against the coronavirus.
The CDC recommends attendees of gatherings wear masks if someone there has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease or is unvaccinated.
6. Lay low before the gathering
If you are planning on gathering with a group of people from multiple households or from people around the country, the CDC recommends laying low for a week prior to the gathering.
Laying low by avoiding crowded indoor spaces or unnecessary travel before the gathering will lower the risk of exposure to the virus and protect everyone at the gathering.
“We don’t want to miss out on the holidays, but at the same time we certainly don’t want to be someone who passes a potentially deadly virus along to a loved one,” Ehresmann said.