Ask the Rev. Doctor Maria
The Rev. Dr. Maria Evans is serving as the Interim Rector at Christ Church in Rolla. She is also a pathologist, board certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, a laboratory medical director, and has served on hospital infection control committees for over 30 years.
During the coronavirus outbreak, The Rev. Dr. Maria is offering her expertise to help us understand and make our way through this unprecedented experience. If you have a question you'd like to ask The Rev. Dr. Maria, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My family is trying to figure out how (or if) we can safely gather for Thanksgiving this year. Can you provide any guidance?
In the middle of October, the CDC published a set of guidelines for safe gathering during Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and Thanksgiving. Several considerations are outlined.
1. First, consider whether you are someone who shouldn't attend a family gathering at all. You should not host or attend a gathering if:
- You or someone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others, has symptoms of COVID-19, is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- You or someone in your household is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- If you or someone in your household are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or live or work with someone at increased risk of severe illness.
Consider, instead, a "household only" celebration and use some creativity to how to make that fun. If you have a relative who should not attend, consider ways to help them have a happy but "no-contact" holiday--Zoom or FaceTime visits, "doorstep" or "window" visits, etc. There are many apps out there for the common and beloved board and card games we sometimes play for the holidays--set up a family-wide competition from all over!
In addition, the CDC has stratified certain Thanksgiving activities by risk below:
- Having a small "household only" dinner
- Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, with "no-contact" delivery
- Virtual dinners/recipe swaps
- Shopping online just before Thanksgiving, or on "Black Friday/Black Monday"
- Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home
- Small outdoor dinners with family and local friends
- Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where hygiene/distancing/masks precautions are in place
- Attending small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place
- Shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
- Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race/event
- 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
Should you decide to host a gathering,
- Make sure common spaces are clean and disinfected. Limit the number of food handlers (for instance, have one person fill all the plates rather than passing dishes back and forth or serving buffet-style.)
- Limit access to the kitchen.
- Consider single use plates/utensils (many of these are now recyclable/compostable)
- Have plenty of sanitizer available and encourage hand washing.
- After the gathering, wash and disinfect the area thoroughly, as well as laundering items such as tablecloths, slipcovers, etc.
- If you engaged in higher risk activities, consider self isolating for 14 days and getting tested.
Let's keep one another in prayer as we negotiate what our Thanksgiving looks like this year.
The Rev. Dr. Maria Evans
who also doubles as
Maria L. Evans, MD, FCAP, FASCP
This material is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. The Episcopal Church and its affiliates do not provide any healthcare services and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional with any questions about your personal healthcare, including diet and exercise.