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Safety tips if the family does gather

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Keeping the Thanksgiving guest list small and limited to the immediate family living under the same roof is the safest course of action during the pandemic. But public health experts know that not everyone will heed that advice.

About 48 million Americans are driving to destinations for the holiday, according to AAA, and the airline industry estimates that nearly 2.5 million people are flying.

Regardless, here are a handful of suggestions to increase the odds for a COVID-safe Thanksgiving.

• Arrange an outdoor meal, if possible, in a well-ventilated space. Coronavirus can spread through tiny respiration droplets that can hang in the air for extended periods, which can be problematic in poorly ventilated indoor spaces.

• Improve indoor air ventilation by placing a fan facing outward in front of an open window.

• If tent dining is an option, consider tents with at least two open walls.

• Whether indoor or outdoor, seat guests at least 6 feet apart, and if multiple households are attending, seat them at separate, distanced tables.

• Ask that guests keep their face masks on when not eating or drinking.

• Among the side dishes and condiments, place dispenser bottles of hand sanitizer and encourage guests to use them liberally.

• Exercise caution around shared food. Avoid platters of food being passed around the table or a buffet, self-serve approach. Better to have one or two designated people dish and serve the plates. Also, limit the number of people in the kitchen or food prep area.

• While coronavirus is not believed to be easily spread by contact with tainted surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas such as doorknobs, countertops, tables, toilets, faucets and sinks.

• Where possible, host a “virtual” gathering of family and friends using Zoom or other audio-video platforms. Designate someone to moderate the online experience and keep people engaged.

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