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Dallas County residents urged to protect others by avoiding Thanksgiving gatherings

Submitted by Dallas County Health Department

ADEL – When deciding how you and your family will mark Thanksgiving 2020, consider whether your actions will put your family at risk of the pandemic that has spread rapidly in Dallas County since the end of October.

Avoid attending or hosting holiday gatherings that include loved ones from other households. Your plans should take into account the number of people versus the size of the room. Some families are creatively planning Thanksgiving celebrations in machine sheds and other large spaces. Others are holding virtual meals online. Check details on virtual platforms that are lifting their time restriction for Thanksgiving Day.

If your group includes college students who are home for the holiday, or anyone else who does not live full time in your household, everyone should wear a mask while not eating. Persons not from the same household should stay six feet apart. The fewer the number of attendees, the easier it is to prevent the spread of disease. In accordance with Iowa guidelines released Nov. 16, if your gathering includes more than eight people, group together those from the same household.

A brief gathering for a meal with appropriate distancing and use of masks is much less risky than extended visits. Overnight guests present more opportunities for the passing of any infection. As an alternative to hours of sitting together inside where airborne germs can spread, encourage everyone to bundle up for a walk outdoors. Other planning details include having one person serve, rather than a buffet style, where everyone touches the serving utensils.

Be aware of a false sense of security, a bubble of safety, we somehow believe protects us from spreading the virus among our family and friends. There is no such protection. Family members can spread germs to one another. Simple activities such as leaning in to look at photos on someone’s phone can be an opportunity for the spread of COVID-19.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive, do NOT attend a Thanksgiving gathering in person. You cannot “test out of” your quarantine or isolation period. It can take up to 14 days after exposure to develop an infection, so testing negative part way through the quarantine is no guarantee the virus will not develop the following day.

Personal responsibility often means personal sacrifice, and this is one of those occasions.  Americans made many sacrifices in the past (rationing, donating, etc.) and the coming holiday season will be an opportunity for this generation to put the well-being of others before personal pleasure.

You may learn more at the websites of the Centers for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/ and the Dallas County Health Department https://www.dallascountyiowa.gov/services/health-and-social-services/public-health.