SWEETWATER COUNTY — Sweetwater County Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon is suggesting the community follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for celebrating Thanksgiving amid the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
With a rise in COVID-19 cases not only locally but on a national level, Dr. Stachon and the CDC both believe it is very important to limit travel this holiday season.
“The recommendations are really important, especially now when you see the numbers mushrooming across the United States and in Sweetwater County,” Dr. Stachon said.
In the last seven days, more than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States, according to the CDC.
On a local level, COVID-19 cases increased from 480 on October 28 to 1,075 positive cases on November 16. Local healthcare professionals said this is a 124 percent increase in just 19 days.
Therefore, the recommendation for celebrating Thanksgiving is to stay home and celebrate with immediate household family members.
“As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” the CDC said. “Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.”
The concern is with how the virus spreads from person to person, Dr. Stachon explained.
People can start spreading COVID-19 two days before showing symptoms, and some people may be completely asymptomatic. It can take up to 14 days after exposure to the virus for a person to develop COVID-19 symptoms. Additionally, an infected person can be contagious for 10 days.
“You put those numbers together, and we can see how it spreads. It’s a sneaky virus. The holiday season can easily become a super spreader,” Dr. Stachon said.
People gathering around a dinner table in close quarters opens up high potential for spreading the virus to loved ones.
“It really is spread in close-quarters from person to person,” Dr. Stachon said.
Dr. Stachon added that most people who gather for the holidays will probably not wear masks, and there will be little to no social distancing.
“We’ll be asking for trouble,” she said.
During the holidays, Dr. Stachon said she understands the desire to be with our families and loved ones. However, she said anyone can be a potential spreader and the last thing people want is to bring COVID-19 to our vulnerable family members.
“Getting everyone together is a huge part of the holidays, but it’s just not conductive to decreasing spread,” Dr. Stachon said. “My husband’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and mine is Christmas but we’re having to rethink everything this year. I’m not asking anyone to do anything I’m not doing myself.”
The CDC recommends celebrating with immediate household members or celebrating with virtual gatherings, and Dr. Stachon echoes this recommendation.
“We have enough of a spread in our community that you almost have to assume everyone could be a spreader,” Dr. Stachon said. “Gatherings shouldn’t happen.”
She reminds the community that this is not forever, and good will this holiday season may just doing what’s best for one another.
“Gatherings will be considered concerning this holiday season,” Dr. Stachon said.
To read more about the CDC recommendations for celebrating Thanksgiving, click here.