Dr. Fauci, who is 79, said his three adult daughters, who all live in different parts of the country, have decided to skip the family Thanksgiving to avoid putting him and his wife at risk. He said people often wrongly assume they are safe if they just invite family or trusted friends.
“Most people feel when they’re in the house with friends, they almost subconsciously let their guard down,” said Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “They don’t realize they’ve come in from multiple cities, spent time in airports. They come to a house where Grandma and Grandpa are, or someone with an underlying condition, and they innocently and inadvertently bring infection into a home. It’s dangerous. You’ve got to be careful.”
If you do decide to invite outside guests, you should take as many precautions as possible. Here are additional suggestions to help make your Thanksgiving safer for everyone.
Assess the risk
To start, answer a series of questions to determine the potential risks of your gathering. Do you have a vulnerable person at your family table? Are virus cases on the rise in your area? Are guests traveling from hot spots? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you should reconsider bringing those guests into your home.
Ask your guests to take early precautions
Once you’ve decided to invite additional guests, ask them to be vigilant in reducing their contacts and potential exposures for at least a week, and preferably two weeks, before Thanksgiving. If testing is available in your area, consider asking all guests to be tested a few days before the holiday, timing it so they get the results before coming to your home.
“Everyone can try to reduce the number of contacts for at least the week before the event, and do the same after as well,” said Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist and associate professor in the department of population medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Just trying, to the best of your ability, to be more conscious of the contacts you have before and after you gather can be a risk reduction strategy.”
Move the dinner outside
If the weather permits, try hosting all or part of your holiday celebration outdoors. Look into space heaters and fire pits to warm a porch or patio. Or consider a partially open space, like a screened-in porch or a garage with the door open to reduce risk.