Thanksgiving warning: Health experts say holiday travel unsafe for much of Mid-Missouri
COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, Mid-Missouri health officials are pleading with residents to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday safely.
"We can assume that about 10 days, two weeks later, we’re going to see a lot more hospitalizations," said Dr. Robin Blount, the chief medical officer at Boone Hospital. "And we’re already seeing a lot of hospitalizations.”
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services issued guidance for how to limit exposure to COVID-19 over the holiday. You can read the full guidelines below.
According to the guidelines, gatherings have higher risk when the people are traveling to or coming from a community with high levels of coronavirus cases and community spread.
Blount said much of Mid-Missouri meets that high-risk level, including Boone, Randolph, Cooper, Howard, Cole and Monroe counties.
"These areas are not only high prevalence, you're hoping those people will stay home and not bring it other places... Boone County meets the standard for a place that you have to be careful about traveling," Blount said.
According to health department guidance, the lowest risk for COVID-19 spread is "celebrating virtually or with members of your own household."
“We all have kind of what we call our quarantine pods: the people that we know we’re safe around and we’re comfortable seeing," Blount said. "Thanksgiving probably shouldn’t extend beyond that."
However, experts say those who choose to continue with larger gatherings can take extra steps against spreading the novel coronavirus.
Boone County meal/gathering guidance
- Stay home if you are feeling sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days (for those celebrating on Thanksgiving, the 14-day mark ahead of the holiday was Nov. 12).
- Socially distance furniture.
- Stay outdoors.
- Wear masks when social distancing is not possible.
- Wash hands frequently and have hand sanitizer readily available.
- Limit the number of people making food and in the kitchen.
- Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces -- use a touchless garbage can and clean/disinfect surfaces frequently.
- Don't serve food buffet-style. Instead, one person could serve the food.
- Keep television/music volume low so people don't have to talk loudly.
- Keep gatherings as short as possible.
- Avoid contact with others. Avoid hugs or kisses.
ABC 17 News previously investigated food safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Health experts say although the virus is not known to transmit through food, it is important to maintain good hygiene while preparing a meal.