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Family COVID-19 Safety during Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about togetherness. However, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, medical experts are concerned about health and safety as families plan to travel and celebrate together.

Understanding the risks can help you plan the best way to celebrate this season during the pandemic. While it’s true that some choices can be difficult and painful – like choosing not to celebrate with your extended family – a lot of the things your family can do to stay safe throughout the holiday are pretty straightforward.

Keep reading to get the answers to the most common questions families have about COVID-19 safety during Thanksgiving. By following a few Thanksgiving safety reminders, you and your loved ones can enjoy the holidays while keeping your family healthy and well.

How can my family safely celebrate Thanksgiving amidst the pandemic?

The risk for contracting COVID-19 is very high when people from different households drink, eat, and talk together in an enclosed space or indoors. Stay with your nuclear family to eliminate that risk. Go online and have a virtual table or gathering together with extended family. If you do choose to have an intimate family gathering, you still need to maintain distance, wear a mask, regularly disinfect surfaces, and practice hand hygiene. If the weather permits, hold your gathering outdoors.

What is the safest way to travel during Thanksgiving?

According to the travel service AAA, more than 55 million Americans traveled for the holiday in 2019. If you are determined to travel during the holidays, gain comfort knowing that flying is relatively low risk, mostly because modern jet airliners’ air exchange rates are extremely high. So, unless you happen to be seated in front of, or next to someone who has the virus, your chance of getting infected is low. In fact, being in airports where people tend to cram together poses a higher risk. It’s extremely important for you to observe proper health protocols such as social distancing, wearing a mask, and regularly washing your hands.

Who should avoid Thanksgiving gatherings?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people should not attend or host a gathering if any of these apply:

  • They have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • They may have been exposed to someone with the virus in the past 2 weeks.
  • They are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test.
  • They are considered high-risk for severe COVID-19 (have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, older people, heart conditions, or type 2 diabetes)

Truly, Thanksgiving in the age of the pandemic will look very different in order to protect the ones you love. As we all look forward to some well-deserved relaxation over the holidays, we would like to encourage you to keep in mind these Thanksgiving safety reminders, and make smart, sensible plans to protect your family.


“Small and Large Gatherings,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/gatherings.html

“More Than 55 Million Travelers Taking to the Roads and Skies this Thanksgiving,” AAA Newsroom, https://newsroom.aaa.com/2019/11/aaa-more-than-55-million-travelers-taking-to-the-roads-and-skies-this-thanksgiving/

“Air Travel,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/travel-by-air-land-sea/air-travel

“Guidance for Organizing Large Events and Gatherings,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/considerations-for-events-gatherings.html

“COVID-19 Risks and Vaccine Information for Older Adults,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/aging/covid19/covid19-older-adults.html