Season of thanks
In the upcoming season of giving thanks, we can show love and appreciation for friends and family by protecting each other’s well being. The best gift we can give is the gift of protecting their health: by wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home if we have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of the disease.
The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate with those within your own household, without additional guests. Any exposure to others outside of your household is an invitation for the disease to spread. To maintain connection, reach out to other households for a virtual gathering or prepare a dish to share with others. You can even participate in one of Roanoke’s long-standing Thanksgiving traditions, the Drumstick Dash! This tradition has gone virtual this year and is available to everyone. Find out more information at https://www.drumstickdash.net/.
Planning: If you do plan an in-person gathering with other households, consider how to limit the total number of people participating in the event. Consider holding the gathering outdoors. And consider having people quarantine before the gathering. An at-home quarantine two weeks prior to any gathering can decrease the risk of spreading disease. Monitor yourself for any COVID-like symptoms, and if you are sick at the time of gathering, do not attend the event. If you cannot completely quarantine, do your best to minimize interactions with others leading up to Thanksgiving by working from home if possible, avoiding other gatherings and events, and using curbside services for groceries and other needs.
Testing may be helpful when planning and assessing the risk to attend an in-person gathering; however, there are limitations to testing. The test only identifies a current infection at the time the test was taken. Importantly, being tested for COVID-19 does not prevent you from contracting the virus.
Protecting: If you do plan an in-person gathering with other households, on the day of the gathering, the safest choice is for everyone to act as if they have already been exposed and may be infectious. This is why it’s so important to continue proper hand washing, wearing masks, and social distancing at the gathering.
Public health guidance recommends cloth face coverings to provide a barrier, primarily protecting others from our nose and mouth germs. The primary purpose of a face mask is to prevent someone who has the virus from widely spreading the disease. There is also growing evidence that it also offers some protection for the person who is wearing the mask. While it feels odd to wear a mask and social distance with close friends and family in the familiar environment of our own homes, these two steps can help keep our loved ones safe.
The local case data are compelling – we currently have a record number of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 and, at the time of writing, almost 100 of our local community members have succumbed to this virus. The toll this disease has taken on families across the country is devastating.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I encourage everyone to make safe plans to celebrate the upcoming holidays, making sacrifices in order to protect each other truly is the greatest gift we can give.