How to celebrate safely: Thanksgiving dinner can go on with precautions, USF Health professor says

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is forcing a lot of people to think outside the box as they get their homes ready for Thanksgiving dinner this year.

“So our family, we’re gonna actually have a socially-distant Thanksgiving picnic with other members of our family,” said Sherri Simonneti of South Tampa.

She said she plans to have 10 family members at this year’s gathering. Plans are different than usual.

“We’re gonna get eight picnic tables (and) put them in a square so that we’ve got a picnic in between each family. Everybody brings their own,” Simonetti told 8 On Your Side.

As coronavirus cases surge across the country, many people are still determined to get together.

USF Health Professor Dr. Tom Unnasch encourages other Floridians to follow Simonetti’s lead with the outdoor dining idea.

“You know, the weather is getting really nice out there Ryan. Why not have dinner outside on the lanai or on the picnic table in your backyard this time of year?” he said. “Staying outdoors really reduces the chances of transmitting the infection.”

If people do need to gather indoors, Unnasch offered the following pointers:

  • Keep groups as small as possible
  • Don’t allow people at high-risk, like grandparents, to attend dinner
  • Wear masks

He urges caution when it comes to hosting out-of-towners.

“I wouldn’t have 12 people coming in from out of state and put them all on a dinner, on the inside of your dining room. I think that’s taking an unreasonable risk,” the professor said.

In the end, he says it’s up to the individual family to make the decision about what makes them feel most comfortable.

“If you do it, you’re going to expose everybody to an increased risk. But the question is – how much of an increased risk are you willing to accept?” Unnasch said.

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