Local family going all-in on Thanksgiving safety during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 tests, quarantine, and video chats
Posted at 11:27 AM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 00:31:52-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — It's a challenge many of us didn't expect to face, planning Thanksgiving during a deadly pandemic. News5 spoke with a family taking extra steps to make it a safe day for the family and with health experts who share some things you may want to consider as you plan your Turkey Day in 2020.

Dining outside, separate tables, video chats, wearing masks, or maybe no Thanksgiving meal at all. It's all on the table right now as people try to decide what's safe and what's best for them this holiday season.

"Normally during Thanksgiving we all try to get together," said Colorado Springs resident Katerina Ianacone. "Because there's so many of us and we live in a lot of different states we pick either Thanksgiving or Christmas and this year was going to be Thanksgiving. Then, obviously coronavirus kind of took over the plans and everything changed."

For Ianacone, the pandemic poses some major concerns and challenges for a Thanksgiving gathering.

"My Mom was really upset because she hasn't seen any of us since April," said Ianacone. "She's been getting very depressed because she is high-risk and doesn't even want to chance that. She doesn't leave her house. She stays home."

Ianacone tells News5 her family went all-in on safety measures, testing negative for COVID-19 and now are in the midst of a two week quarantine to make sure things are safe for the family.

"Let's just all get tested before Thanksgiving, give it at-least two weeks, stay home, our kids are doing homeschool so it's totally possible to stay here," said Ianacone. "I'm going to do anything to make sure my mom gets to come down. She needs this. So, I'm going to do anything for her."

Technology will then be used to keep extended family members connected on Thanksgiving.

For anyone who is thinking about using a video chat service for the holiday, the leaders of Zoom just announced the company will be lifting its 40-minute time limit for free calls allowing families to chat longer for free on Thanksgiving. The 40-minute limit removal is in effect from 12 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, November 26th through 6 a.m. Eastern on Friday, November 27th.

"They are going to basically phone-in from different devices," said Ianacone. "So, we're just going to bring in a couple different devices and a lot of TVs because when we play Pictionary we've got to see what they're drawing, or we can't play right."

El Paso County Medical Director Dr. Robin Johnson knows not everyone will do this type of extensive planning for Turkey Day. Large indoor gatherings with people from several different households are considered high risk activities by the CDC.

"It's exactly the situation in which the virus can just explode because of the social nature of it," said Dr. Johnson.

READ MORE: list of states' current restrictions

Health experts offer these suggestions for Thanksgiving:

- Wearing a mask when possible

- Doing your grocery shopping early to avoid crowds

- Sticking to immediate family gatherings

- Space out tables, or move your meal outside

- Designate one person to be in charge of safely serving food, instead of doing a buffet style serving.

"There's no way we're going to knock on doors and go hey, are you having Thanksgiving? Is everyone wearing a mask?" said Dr. Johnson. "It's kind of a ridiculous scenario, particularly in America. So what we implore is that you know what the guidelines are. I know they seem onerous and it's hard because this is an invisible threat."

Here are the Thanksgiving guidelines released by the CDC:

To help our neighbors to rebound from the challenges of the pandemic, we invite you to share your Thanksgiving plans and ideas on our social media platforms.

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