WATAUGA — Thanksgiving will look a lot different for many around the High Country as families have decided to take precautions amid a surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide. Others report that their traditions will proceed as normal, or close to it.
Earlier this week, the Watauga Democrat asked its Facebook followers to share their Thanksgiving plans.
“Eating outside and spread very far apart,” said Samantha Fuentes. “The oldest in our family are not coming. Will FaceTime them sometime during the day.”
“My sister and I are both teachers,” said Savannah Wilson of Boone. “We can’t get together with our family this year because we are in the classroom every day and at high risk to transmit Covid to our older or at-risk family members.”
Trey Cameron commented that his mother, who has COPD, recently canceled the family Thanksgiving plans. “We are gonna do a Zoom call instead. Gonna miss her cooking, but maybe it’ll keep us safer so hopefully next year we’ll all be here.”
Joyce Campbell said her family get-together with all the fixings would proceed “as always.”
Others emphasized the need to live in the present, not knowing what could happen in the future.
“Full steam ahead! I have today. Another year is not promised. Nor another day,” said Allexia Brewer.
“We aren’t taking a day for granted! Thanksgiving as usual at our house. Turkey, fixins’ and a little common sense,” said Billy Norris.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has released guidance for Thanksgiving celebrations and Black Friday shopping. Under executive order, indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people or less.
“The best way to protect loved ones during Thanksgiving is to limit travel and gatherings with anyone who does not live in your household,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen said in a statement. “If you do plan to get together, there are important steps you can take to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to your family and friends.”
Because North Carolina is experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 cases across the state, NCDHHS urges caution when gathering for Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations, especially for gatherings that include people who are at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19, such as anyone over the age of 65.
If people do plan on traveling or gathering, they should consider having a screening COVID-19 test three to four days ahead of time, NCDHHS recommended. A screening test can help someone know if they have COVID-19 even if they do not have yet have symptoms, NCDHHS said.
However, a screening test can miss some infections, the department noted, and a negative test only gives you information for that point in time. Screening tests are available at state-funded community testing events. Call ahead to other testing sites to see if they offer screening tests at their locations. Community testing events and other testing sites are listed online at ncdhhs.gov/testingplace.
“Consider getting a screening test ahead of your Thanksgiving travel or gathering. If you test positive, stay home and isolate. If you test negative, it’s not a free pass. Wear a mask and practice all 3Ws, including keeping 6 feet of distance from others and washing hand often,” Cohen said.
People who have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around a person with COVID-19, should not host or participate in any in-person gatherings until they complete their isolation or quarantine period, according to NCDHHS.
For a full list of guidance about traveling and gathering during the holidays, along with a chart outlining low, medium and high-risk activities, see the NCDHHS Interim Guidance for Thanksgiving Holiday, included with this article at wataugademocrat.com.
During Black Friday shopping, it is strongly recommended by NCDHHS that individuals do not participate in any traditional Black Friday shopping where customers gather in large groups waiting for the store to open or are in crowded stores for extended times.
“Any large gathering of people poses an increased risk for spreading COVID-19,” NCDHHS stated. “People at high risk for COVID-19 complications should limit in-person shopping. And people who have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, have COVID-19 like symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19, should not shop in person until their isolation or quarantine period is over.”
Individuals who do shop in person should follow the 3Ws and remember stores are limited to 50 percent capacity, the department said.