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The CDC just gave everyone an excuse to skip Thanksgiving

Published Oct 20th, 2020 6:34PM EDT
coronavirus thanksgiving
Image: Viesturs/Adobe

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  • The CDC has issued its recommendations for staying safe during Thanksgiving in the middle of the pandemic.
  • Keeping gatherings small, with those in your household, is the best bet.
  • Avoid large gatherings, including parades and get-togethers with extended family.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that means homes filled with happy, healthy people eating good food and not talking about politics or anything like that. Wait, sorry, I zoned out for a second there. What I meant to say was OMG THANKSGIVING IS ALMOST HERE… RUN.

As if dealing with opinionated relatives during an election year wasn’t stressful enough already, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. Just being around relatives you haven’t seen in months can be nerve-wracking as none of us know where the other has been, what precautions they’ve been taking, and whether or not the green bean casserole is served with a side of COVID-19. Thankfully, the CDC is here to help, and they’re basically giving us all an excuse to get out of Thanksgiving gatherings almost entirely.

Now, I’m a big fan of Thanksgiving food but I’m not necessarily sold on the over-the-top family get-togethers that come along with it. I don’t mind chatting with relatives, but sometimes the stress is just not worth it. That’s especially true this year, and luckily for me, the CDC says I don’t have to do anything for Thanksgiving if I don’t want to.

Here’s what the CDC classifies as “Lower risk activities” for the holiday:

  • Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

You see, now that’s the kind of Thanksgiving I can get behind. By contrast, here’s what the CDC considers to be “Higher risk,” which is code for “don’t do this stuff, ya dummy”:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household

Aside from the warning about alcohol (I live in Wisconsin, please), I’m definitely going to be avoiding all of those things like the plague. Which, coincidentally, is kind of what we’re all trying to avoid anyway.

So, take it from the CDC: Thanksgiving is small-scale this year, and if you do anything other than that, you’re just increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. However, if you find yourself guilt-tripped into heading to a big family gathering, wear a mask. It’s the least you could do. Literally.