Oswego County Health Department releases COVID-19 guidance for Thanksgiving


Count Your Blessings with an At-Home Thanksgiving Celebration

OSWEGO COUNTY – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave people feeling anxious and frustrated. Many are looking forward to relieving that stress by spending quality time with family and friends on Thanksgiving. However, Oswego County – like so many other areas – is experiencing an alarming surge in positive COVID-19 cases and public health officials are urging people to re-think their holiday plans.

“We have seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 this past week,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “What started out as small community clusters has spread very quickly through social gatherings around Halloween. We now have 260 active cases and nearly 700 people in isolation and quarantine.”

He added, “As people are planning for Thanksgiving, we hope they are learning just how quickly the coronavirus can spread through small groups. The safest way to celebrate the holiday this year is with the people in your household.”

The Oswego County Health Department offers guidance for those planning a more traditional Thanksgiving.

All standard COVID-19 protocols are strongly encouraged, including frequent hand-washing, maintaining a social distance of six feet and wearing a face covering.

“Residents should stay home and not host a Thanksgiving gathering if they are feeling sick or are under quarantine orders,” said Diane Oldenburg, senior public health educator with OCHD. “Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is waiting for test results, or has symptoms of the virus or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, or is at an increased risk of severe illness from the virus, should stay home and not participate in in-person gatherings.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered that indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences will be limited to no more than 10 people.

Those who will be attending a gathering should bring their own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils. Use disposable food containers and single-use condiment packets. Avoid going in and out of areas where food is being prepared or handled.

People who are hosting a gathering should consider having an outdoor meal if possible; or keep the windows open for better ventilation indoors. Other suggestions include clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces between use and limit people in food preparation areas. Ask guests to bring their own food and drink or, if sharing, have one person serve the food.

“These steps will help prevent a surge like we are seeing from Halloween activities,” said Huang. “It’s important that people comply with state and local directives to control the spread of the virus in our county and avoid having our communities placed under restrictions again.”

The Centers for Disease Control recommends people try new tactics to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Suggested activities include having a recipe swap and showing off the results with a virtual dinner. Household members can enjoy a fun game, cheer on their favorite sports team or watch a movie together. Start gift-shopping with online sales and use contactless delivery or pick-up services to avoid crowded stores.

“Perhaps the most important thing that people can do to celebrate the holiday is to count their blessings with their loved ones,” said Oldenburg. “Either within your household or virtually, have everyone share the things they are grateful for with family and friends.”

For more information about the holiday guidelines, visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.

Additional questions can be directed to the Oswego County Health Department COVID-19 hotline at 315-349-3330 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information about emotional supports, visit the Oswego County Department of Social Services Division of Mental Hygiene at www.oswegocounty.com/mentalhygiene.

Under New York State Public Health Law, the Oswego County Health Department is the sole local public health authority regarding the COVID-19 pandemic response over all persons and entities within the County of Oswego. The Oswego County Health Department works closely with New York State Department of Health regarding COVID-19 monitoring, response and reporting.

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