Turkey, Cranberry Sauce and COVID-19: Your Thanksgiving Coronavirus Survival Guide

Regardless of what your holiday plans are, this will be a Thanksgiving like none other. Here are a few tips to get you through the holidays safely and COVID-19 free.

Next week most Americans will fall snuggly into one of two groups. Group A will heed the advice of medical experts and severely curtail their Thanksgiving plans... if not outright cancel them all together.

Group B, pandemic-weary and eager to see family, will roll the dice and say COVID-19 be damned as they jaunt near or far to see family.

So which group are you in?

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its holiday guidance, noting the virus crisis is worsening and that small household gatherings are “an important contributor." The CDC said older adults and others at heightened risk of severe illness should avoid gathering with people outside their households.

According to Dr. Patrick Kachur, a professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, there's good reason to be cautious. The indoor multi-generational gatherings you're used to hosting for Thanksgiving are much riskier than the socially-distanced backyard gatherings many people held over the summer.

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"I do think there are some real things to be aware of when it comes to gathering with extended family," Kachur told Today. "The gatherings we hold in November are going to be almost entirely indoors. Thanksgiving may involve people staying overnight in close quarters." Kachur said it's particularly important to be cautious if you’re going to be involved in multi-generational family gatherings or spending time with anyone who is at an increased risk for COVID-19. "If so, having a small family gathering is the way to go this year," he said.

Regardless of what your holiday plans are, this will be a Thanksgiving like none other. Here are are few survival tips to get you through the holidays safely and COVID-19 free.

Try a Zoom Thanksgiving

Zoom, the video conferencing company, revealed a special Thanksgiving gift for everyone this week. No time limits for your family Thanksgiving meetings. 

Zoom offers free service to users, but only for up to 40 minutes, unless you pay a minimum of $15 monthly.  But for Thanksgiving, Zoom is free to all, "so your family gatherings don't get cut short," the company said in a tweet. 

Zoom is lifting its 40-minute limit for all meetings globally from midnight ET on Nov. 26 through 6 a.m. ET on Nov. 27.

Have a Thanksgiving Day Picnic

Yes, the prospect of dining outdoors in late November is a tough sell in many parts of the country. But the coronavirus spreads more easily when people are crowded together inside, so experts are encourages new outdoor traditions such as a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community. But, if you are feasting inside, limit your guest list to a small group and have everyone sit at least 6 feet apart. Also, open your windows to keep air circulating.

Be a Virtual Volunteer

In a normal year some people find time in their schedules to help out at a local soup kitchens by feeding the homeless. And while that need isn't going away anytime soon, helping out in that particular way may prove more challenging this year. So find other ways to virtually volunteer your time or supplies. You can donate food to your local food bank or, with many communities sheltering in place, you can help make sure your most vulnerable neighbors have the food they need by making food deliveries while being maintaining your social distance. You can even pick up the phone, call your local nursing home and ask to speak with a resident who doesn't have family to be with this time of year. Find a way to give back.

Do Your Black Friday Shopping Online

For many, Thanksgiving is just a distraction from massive Black Friday sales. If you're accustomed to hitting the stores after your big meal, try giving it a pass this year. More consumers have taken to online Black Friday shopping in recent years anyway, but this year is a perfect time to pull out the laptop and let your fingers do the shopping.