STOCKBRIDGE – This week, the U.S. will celebrate Thanksgiving and, as with most things this year, many of our celebrations and traditions will be modified to reduce the risk of getting or spreading COVID or flu.

India Robinson, M.D. a primary care physician with Piedmont Physicians of McDonough West, wants the community to know that there are still many ways to celebrate the holiday and keep friends, family, and ourselves, safe from unnecessary exposure to illnesses.

“Typically, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family, many of whom you may not see often or are from out of town, but, this year, the safest way to celebrate is with members of your own household,” Robinson said. “If you have friends or family that live elsewhere, plan a time to all be together virtually so you can share stories, recipes, or things you are grateful for this year- even consider eating together virtually.”

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For those who do attend or host gatherings that include people living outside of their household, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided recommendations to reduce the risk of spreading COVID or the flu.

• Avoid creating a crowded environment by holding your gathering outside and limiting the number of people invited.

• Encourage all guests to maintain at least six feet (about two arms-length) between one another and wear masks.

• Make hand sanitizer available in easily accessible areas for guests. Frequently clean high-touch areas to prevent germs from lingering on surfaces.

• Use disposable plates, utensils, cups, and napkins, as well as single-use servings and condiments.

• Have one person serve or plate the food to avoid having multiple people touch the serving pieces or stand too close to one another in the serving line.

“While some of the recommendations may seem odd at first, we may discover that they make the holiday less stressful along with keeping everyone safe,” Robinson said. “If, as recommended by the CDC, guests bring their own food and drinks and everyone uses disposable plates, utensils and cups, it can lessen the amount of prep work and clean up for hosts.”

The Thanksgiving holiday also marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season with many stores holding deeply discounted sales on Black Friday.

“You can still take advantage of the sales by shopping online and choosing curbside pick-up,” Robinson said.

For a complete list of recommendations on how to have a safe Thanksgiving celebration, including tips for those traveling during the holiday, visit www.cdc.gov.

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