How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic

November 20, 2020

COVID Thanksgiving dinner safety Denver Health

Update 11/20/2020: Due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Colorado and nationwide, Denver Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending that everyone avoid travel and Thanksgiving gatherings outside of your own home this year. The safest way to celebrate is at home with the people you live with.

As of Friday, November 20, 2020, 15 Colorado counties, including Denver, will move to tougher public health restrictions to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Colorado Department of Public Health's new "Level Red: Severe Risk" means that everyone is required to stay at home except for grocery shopping, exercise, and necessary activities. Only critical businesses, such as grocery stores are open.

Original article: Living through the age of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic means changing the way we celebrate holidays to help stop the spread of the virus. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is going to look much different for most of us, whether it means skipping a trip home this year or simply limiting the amount of guests in your home for the big Thanksgiving meal.

We asked Denver Health's Chief Medical Officer and infectious diseases specialist Connie Price, MD to give us some important tips on how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely this year.

Tips to Have a Safe Thanksgiving in 2020

Watch: Denver Health's chief medical officer gives tips to celebrate Thanksgiving safely during the COVID-19 pandemic in this short video.

Dr. Price said that the safest thing to do this year is to simply not have any guests over for Thanksgiving dinner this year. Eating only with those who live in your household is going to be a popular option for many people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But if you do decide to invite a few guests over, Dr. Price said that the key is to keep it small. She doesn't recommend a specific number of guests, but said it is best to follow the current Public Health guidelines for group gatherings inside your home.

Each county in Colorado has its own rules that are subject to change based on the number of COVID-19 cases in the county, so be sure to check the Colorado Department of Public Health's website before Thanksgiving to make sure your gathering is following the rules.

How to Have a Safe Thanksgiving Meal Together During the Pandemic

How we serve and eat our food together will look different in 2020 as well.

"If you are eating together in the same household, I would advise against having a big buffet," warned Dr. Price. "You should have one person plate the meals and not have multiple people coming up and all helping themselves."

Dr. Price said the guests of the two different households should maintain a social distance of at least six feet within the home. That includes when you are sitting down to eat together.

For those who are considered the most vulnerable to getting severely sick from COVID-19, Dr. Price recommends they remain at home with their immediate family who lives in their household and that no invited guests should come into the home for the Thanksgiving meal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most vulnerable to severe illness from COVID includes:

  • Older adults (risk increases the older you are)
  • Obese adults
  • Smokers
  • Pregnant women
  • Immunocompromised
  • People with COPD, heart conditions, cancer, chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes


"We must protect those most vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19 for just a little bit longer, until we have a COVID-19 vaccine available to them," said Dr. Price.

See our blog with tips on how to safely shop at the grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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