This is usually a time of year when people are headed to holiday parties on the weekends and planning for large family gatherings around Christmas.
But with the number of coronavirus cases spiking around the country, health care officials are urging people to rethink parties and family gatherings. Or at least do everything possible to keep yourself and your family members safe.
"As much as we want to see Grandma, we don't want to accidentally infect Grandma," Dr. John Delzell, vice president of medical education for Northeast Georgia Health System, said.
Coronavirus cases have spiked after the Fourth of July holiday, Labor Day and now, Thanksgiving, and Delzell is urging people to take the threat seriously. For most of last week, the health system had more than 200 confirmed COVID-19 patients in its hospitals and long-care facilities, and the system is also dealing with a shortage of ICU beds.
Delzell said holiday gatherings that include only the family members in your immediate bubble, or people you are around all the time, presents a relatively low risk.
"But as those groups start to get a little bit bigger and we start to bring people from outside our normal bubble into it, the risk starts to go up," Delzell said. "We would probably recommend that you not have family coming in from outside the region or you not go to visit family outside the region."
But Delzell knows that some people will still gather. So he wants those people to take precautions, like always wearing masks, especially inside and keeping proper distance. He suggests family not gather at one large table, but instead spread out into multiple rooms in the house. And consider having just one person plate all the food.
"That might be better for us anyway," he said. "You might get a little bit less food which is usually a problem as we usually overeat at holiday gatherings."
He said honest communication between family members is essential. He said people should ask family coming in if they have any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 or if they believe they have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19. If they have, those family members should stay home, Delzell said.