DENVER (KDVR) — The COVID-19 pandemic will once again be hanging over Thanksgiving planning this year, making the navigation of family relationships even more complicated than it may already be.
This year, however, will be different in some ways: The vaccine has now been widely available for months — but that doesn’t mean everyone has taken it. We know that COVID cases among the vaccinated are rare but still possible and the delta plus variant has arrived on the scene.
So, what’s one to do when it comes to hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year with unvaccinated guests?
Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control for the University of Colorado Health, has some tips for Turkey Day hosts this year.
“You want to have an honest conversation with whoever’s coming and you can decide whether or not that is something that will dictate who comes or who doesn’t come,” Dr. Barron suggested. “So I think you just have to be straightforward and honest and say, ’these are my household rules, just like all rules we have when we have company,’ and people can decide whether that works for them or not.”
Dr. Barron suggests there are several ways you can approach this with guests.
“You can ask them to make sure they have no symptoms and truly zero symptoms. No runny nose that they think is allergies or a sore throat they think is related to allergies or maybe not drinking enough fluids, you can ask them about symptoms. There are home tests available.”
That’s another suggestion: requiring guests to take a rapid test directly before gathering.
“If it’s positive it’s probably a legitimate reason not to show up at someone’s house. If it’s negative, you want to make sure you have that in context of not having any symptoms — because I think, again, no test is perfect and you don’t want to be the one who showed up and gave everyone COVID,” Dr. Barron said.
In terms of how many guests you should invite over this Thanksgiving, current outbreak numbers in your state and city are a good starter resource, and knowing guests’ vaccination status is vital.
“If everyone is vaccinated and nobody has symptoms, I think you can probably have a decent-sized gathering,” Baron says. “I wouldn’t probably go up to over 50, but you know some people have big parties and if you’re getting over 20, I would even say you need to really think about how much room do we have and what is the air circulation situation and is everyone just kind of coming and going?”
If guests feel uncomfortable, Barron said another option is mask wearing. Experts also advise hosts to open windows (if it’s not chilly) or to set up air purifiers to help with air circulation.