Rossen Reports: Tips to stay safe during Thanksgiving

Top doctors with the CDC say you probably shouldn’t do the holidays like you normally would this year and are even advising people to not travel for Thanksgiving.


Editor's note: This interview was conducted before the CDC released new guidelines on Thursday that people should not have anyone in their homes who don't live there.

We all want to have a normal Thanksgiving this year, of course. We want to see our families, sit around the dinner table, eat and catch up — even argue!

But top doctors with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials are saying you probably shouldn’t do the holidays like you normally would this year. On Thursday, the CDC advised people to not travel for Thanksgiving and not to invite anyone into their homes who don't normally live there.

But studies show many of you are planning small gatherings anyway.

Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center did a study, finding 38% of people plan to gather in groups of 10 of more people for Thanksgiving, 33% say they won't require masks and 25% say they won't social distance or won’t require guests to socially distance.

So what if you want to have a Thanksgiving gathering but do so in the safest way possible? Dr. Robert Glatter of Northwell Health weighs in with tips to minimize your risk.

Here's what to know.

Glatter: You should really just have your immediate family: People you live with. Your household. And that makes it much, much safer!

Rossen: What if your immediate family is your son or daughter who’s in college? Who needs to come down, who’s been sort of out in the environment but they are put on your immediate family. Should they quarantine for a certain number of days? Should they get a COVID test before they come? What’s the best way to work that, doctor?

Glatter: If you want to have a traditional Thanksgiving, you have to start a quarantine 14 days in advance. That means that people who will be coming in need to not be engaging in activities with groups of people. They need to stay amongst themselves. And that also means doing low-risk activities and wearing a mask. If you’re going to do this, you need to have a COVID test at least a day before you leave to travel, whether it’s by bus or airplane for any long distance.

Rossen: The next big question – where to eat the Thanksgiving meal? And where physically to eat it. Normally, you’d do it here in the dining room and you could separate your chairs out 6 feet apart. But we do know what experts say, outside is always best for COVID because inside the particles can fly inside. Outside it has more room to get away from you. So, in these cold temperatures do you put on your coat? Do you come to your outside table and dress this up out here? Is that what’s best?

Glatter: Weather permitting, it’s best to do this outdoors. That’s really the safest. This way the virus gets diluted.

If you will do it indoors, absolutely have to because of the weather, you need to stay at least 6 feet apart if you’re bringing in people who don’t live in your household. And wearing a mask when you’re not eating is really the safest.

Rossen: What about how to serve the food this year? I mean, normally, the best part of Thanksgiving right? You’re passing the turkey around. Everyone’s touching the cranberry sauce dish like this, the mashed potatoes everyone’s touching it. They’re like “gimme your plate, gimme your plate, take some more mashed potatoes!” But this year you probably don’t want that, right? You don’t want people touching everything you are touching near your food. So, do you stick with this in some other way? Or do you do it buffet style where the food is somewhere else and everyone serves themselves?

Glatter: You should do it this way: Use a serving island, have the dishes 5 or 6 feet apart and have people go separately and not wait in line. Because that’s really the risk, when people are standing close together.

Rossen: When it comes to serving food, the CDC is recommending everyone bring their own utensils, whatever you’re going to use if you’re going to somebody else’s house.

Our experts say there's another option, too, if you don’t want to bring your own stuff.

Make sure the homeowner where you are going washes everything in the dishwasher on high heat to kill off any germs or bacteria on the surfaces before you use it.

We hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.