Infectious disease experts warn of the convergence of Covid-19 and influenza as temperatures drop and colder weather occurs. The United States is already seeing an increase in infections.
“Some people in this country will be able to have a relatively normal type of Thanksgiving, but in other parts of the country it will be, ‘You’d better wait and maybe just have a close family and make sure you do it the way you do.̵
“What we’re starting to see now – and we can’t escape it – we’re starting to see in the Midwest and Northwest, an increase in test positivity, which is usually a predictor that you will have leaps and bounds,” Fautsi said.
But if Americans are going to celebrate Thanksgiving, the trick, Fauzi said, is to do it as safely as possible.
Low risk leisure activities
“Understanding that everyone has this traditional, emotional, understandable, warm feeling for the holidays – and bringing a group of people, friends and family together indoors – is understandable,” Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Working Group, told ABC News during an interview Thursday. “But this time we really have to be careful, and each individual family assesses the risks / benefits.
People can prepare holiday food for non-household family members – especially those at higher risk of becoming infected with Covid-19, and neighbors – and deliver it without contact. They can also organize a virtual dinner as a means of reducing risk.
Also, shopping online, instead of heading to malls and stores for holiday sales on the weekend after Thanksgiving, is a safer way to grab those deals.
The CDC offers watching sports events, parades or movies from home as another low-risk holiday activity.
Moderate leisure activities
If you are going to host a Thanksgiving dinner, the CDC recommends organizing an outdoor event with family and friends in your neighborhood.
“Gatherings with more preventative measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing … pose less risk than gatherings where less or no preventive measures are applied,” the CDC advises.
Festive activities with moderate risks of catching coronavirus include visiting a pumpkin spot or orchard, where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks and social distancing.
Attending outdoor sports events, even with coronavirus safety measures in place, still poses a moderate risk of infection.
High-risk leisure activities
High-risk holiday activities include those that are most likely to catch or spread the coronavirus, the CDC said.
“Indoor meetings usually pose a greater risk than outdoor meetings,” the agency said. “Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose a greater risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors.”
Meetings that last longer are more dangerous than those that are shorter. And the more people, the greater the risk.
“You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice this social gathering, unless you are almost certain that the people you are dealing with are not infected. Either they have been tested recently, or they live a lifestyle in which they have no interaction with anyone but you and your family, “Fautsi said this week in an interview with CBS News.
Shopping in crowded shops and malls before or after Thanksgiving is another high-risk activity.
It is not recommended to attend crowded public events, such as competitions or parades.
Alcohol or drug use can also blur judgment and increase negligent behavior, the CDC said.
“Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others,” the agency said.
But if you still plan to travel, take as many precautions as possible. Wear a mask, participate in social distancing by standing at least six feet away from others, wash your hands often, avoid any sick people, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
“We have to be careful,” Fautsi said during a recent discussion at the American University. “You have to take it as an individual case. It depends on where you are and where you travel.”
Fauci, who lives in Washington, said he would celebrate the holiday this year with his wife at home and, in fact, with his three daughters, who live in different cities with different rates of coronavirus infection.
“They themselves, out of concern for me and my age, decided not to go home for Thanksgiving, even though all three really want to go home for Thanksgiving,” Fauci said.
“It’s a family decision. Otherwise we would like to be together,” he said.
“We decided to do it very, very close family-type things,” he added. “That was my decision. I’m not going to criticize people who do it differently, but look at the individual situation in your family and make a decision that way.”
The CDC’s holiday guidelines are not intended to replace local or state mandates for the pandemic, the agency said.
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.