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Medical experts recommend virtual Thanksgiving because of COVID-19

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SALT LAKE CITY – Doctors and epidemiologists are urging Utahns to hold a virtual Thanksgiving this year, as positive COVID-19 test results skyrocket in the state. 

During a virtual news conference on Wednesday, University of Utah Pediatric Infectious Disease Chief Dr. Andy Pavia said Utah has seen spikes in COVID-19 after several major holidays this year. 

“Thanksgiving has the potential to be the scariest one yet because there’s so much disease in our community right now. The chances of someone coming into your home who has the disease are pretty high. And then we’re indoors, so there’s greater potential for spread,” Pavia said. 

Infectious disease expert Dr. Emily Spivak said indoor gatherings have been a major factor in spreading COVID-19  throughout Utah recently. 

Traditional Thanksgiving celebrations could make it worse. 

“The concern here is that both droplet and aerosol transmission in these tight, poorly ventilated areas where we have people talking, potentially at high volumes and very emotional and excited, in addition to eating,” Spivak said. 

She recommended holding Thanksgiving virtually as a way to protect elderly relatives and people who may have underlying conditions. 

But what about otherwise healthy people who want to visit friends and relatives in person over Thanksgiving for mental health reasons? 

In that case, experts recommend holding an event outside with no more than 10 people all social distancing. They also recommend everyone wear a mask and bring their own food. 


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States