Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman is reminding residents to take precautions to stay safe during Thanksgiving and the holiday season, as the community continues to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Gelman urges caution for Thanksgiving and has expressed concern over upcoming holiday celebrations that may further increase transmission rates of COVID-19 within our community. Gatherings of family and friends in small, poorly ventilated indoor areas for extended periods of time should be avoided, especially as COVID-19 cases rise in the region.
“Our future success in getting safely through this pandemic depends greatly on the precautions that you take today,” Gelman said.
Based on CDC guidance, Dr. Gelman recommends taking the following precautions at Thanksgiving:
Avoid indoor gatherings, dinners, and parties, especially with people outside your immediate household.
Avoid large crowds even when outside, wear a mask and practice physical distancing.
Staying home is the best way to protect yourself. Avoid travel to attend holiday gatherings.
Get a flu shot, wear a mask and wash hands frequently.
According to Dr. Gelman, lower risk suggestions for celebrating include:
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 does not involve contact with others, and/or virtually connect to enjoy your meal together remotely.
Have an outdoor bonfire in place of a holiday meal, with immediate family.
If you plan on traveling or gathering on Thanksgiving, Gelman recommends that residents consider having a screening COVID-19 test ahead of time. Although a screening test may help someone find out if they have COVID-19 even if they have not yet exhibited symptoms, be aware that a negative result does not guarantee the absence of COVID-19. A test is negative only at the time that it is taken, and may not account for an individual who has been exposed, is actively incubating (2-14 days) the virus who may test positive at a later date, and rapid-test results aren’t fully reliable.
“Thanksgiving and other holidays are usually a wonderful opportunity to get together with our loved ones, but we must remain vigilant against the spread of the virus as we continue to see an uptick in cases,” Gelman said. “Out of an abundance of caution, please avoid large family gatherings this Thanksgiving, and celebrate with those within your immediate household. To prevent large outbreaks, we must adhere to recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and if you are planning in-person gatherings outside of your household, please make sure that you only interact with people who follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.”