As COVID-19 infections surge across the country, the City of Evanston’s Health & Human Services Department is urging all residents to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19 this Thanksgiving by limiting in-person gatherings and vigilantly following public health guidance.

According to the CDC, small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household.

“In-person holiday gatherings provide COVID-19 with ample opportunities to spread. With infections rising in Evanston and across the country, residents should consider limiting Thanksgiving gatherings to members of their own household, or celebrating with virtual festivities,” Health & Human Services Director Ike Ogbo said. "While reenvisioning our beloved holiday traditions is disappointing, changing the way we celebrate Thanksgiving this year will help ensure that there are no empty seats at our tables next year.”

Guidelines for gatherings

The CDC and the IDPH offer guidelines for those choosing to host Thanksgiving celebrations, including:

  • ·        Limit the number of guests. The more people who attend a gathering, the greater the chance that someone in attendance is carrying the virus.
  • ·        Require guests to wear face coverings, unless eating or drinking.
  • ·        Maintain six feet of distance between guests at all times, including before, during and after the meal. This includes relatives from other households.

·        Consider hosting festivities outdoors, as weather permits. Increase ventilation indoors by opening windows and doors.

·        Consider single-use disposable utensils and dishware for serving and eating meals.

·        Wash and disinfect guest areas before and after the gathering.

·        Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations.

“No matter how comfortable we feel around our friends and relatives, it’s important to remain vigilant about following public health guidelines, as COVID-19 can be spread by those without any symptoms,” Mr. Ogbo said. “Those who choose to have an in-person gathering should follow public health guidelines vigilantly, including wearing a face covering, maintaining six feet of distance between guests, and washing hands frequently. No one wants their Thanksgiving dinner to become the next super-spreader event.”

Community members are reminded that IDPH Resurgence Mitigations limit gatherings to no more than 25 people. Those who have COVID-19 or who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should stay home. In addition, older adults and those at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid in-person gatherings.