Thanksgiving plans up in the air for some, health department shares holiday safety guidelines


NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — As Governor Roy Cooper lowers the limit on indoor gatherings, it leaves some peoples’ Thanksgiving plans up in the air.

Following the CDC guidelines, New Hanover County Health and Human Services put out guidelines about how to celebrate safely. UNCW also shared guidelines for students as they get ready to leave for holiday break.

The health department says it is doable to host Thanksgiving dinner this year safely, but like many other things, it might just look different.

“I think it’s safer if I just stay home, here in Wilmington,” UNCW student Keara Cousins said.

It’s a scramble for some UNCW students though, as they try to make new plans for Thanksgiving.

“I think COVID affected everybody, because some of my family members are not going to be able to come down, and we just won’t be able to spend time together” UNCW student Imajae Dodd said.

Dodd says his family was supposed to come visit him this year, but now they won’t be able to because of COVID-19 concerns.

“My grandparents, who I’m extremely close with, are both in their late 80s, so I definitely take that into consideration,” UNCW junior Garrett Wishon said. “Also, especially if I go around them, I’ll obviously wear a mask. I would feel horrible if I ever got them sick, so I just felt like right now, it was probably best for me to come home.”

Wishon says he decided to go home early and go virtual for the rest of the semester so he didn’t put his family at risk down the road.

“I was supposed to go home for Thanksgiving, but my mom actually got COVID, so I can’t go home anymore.”

Cousins says she also has a family member on the other side of her family who is immunocompromised, so she and her siblings can’t travel there either.

If you are healthy, the New Hanover county Health Department has some suggestions for how to keep the Thanksgiving traditions going safely.

“Every family unit that comes, can bring their own food and drink, so you’re not sharing food and drink,” Assistant Health Director Carla Turner said. “If the meal is going to be prepared at the house, then have the person preparing the meal wear gloves and a mask while they prepare the meal, and when it’s served, have one person serve. Don’t do a buffet style where everybody and their brother gets up and has their hands on everything.”

Turner also suggests having separate tables for each family or household.

Like CDC guidelines, she encourages people to keep following the three W’s, and wear a mask when you’re not eating or drinking.

“If it’s a nice day, if you can eat outside, that’s great,” Turner said. “If you’re going to eat inside, can you open the windows to just increase the ventilation inside the house.”

To stay at a lower risk, Turner says you can host a virtual dinner or drop off a meal on someone’s doorstep if you’re trying to help people in need.

No everyone will make it home for the holidays this year though.

“You want to be able to go home and see your family, and just enjoy time with them,” Dodd said. “I think we just got to get through it.”

Some students are still trying to figure out what they’re going to do.

“Worst comes to worst, I’ll probably just stay here and spend it with some friends in the area,” Cousins said.

UNCW is encouraging students to get tested for COVID three to four days before leaving campus. The university says they are also expected to show proof of a negative COVID test three days before coming back from holiday break.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, Top Stories

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