(Columbia, SC) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today offered recommendations for a safer Thanksgiving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Thanksgiving is an important time for family and friends to celebrate and reconnect, especially during such a difficult year,” said Dr. Michael J. Kacka, DHEC Physician and Chief Medical Officer. “While we take time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for, including our family, friends and loved ones, let’s remember that the actions we take today, could determine our ability to come together to celebrate holidays and family gatherings in the future.”
As South Carolinians prepare to celebrate this holiday season, state public health officials are reminding residents to take actions to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. This includes continuing to wear your mask and practice social distancing.
“Try to keep gatherings small in terms of different households invited, ensure that proper social distancing and mask-wearing is observed, consider outdoor celebrations if weather permits, and bring more people together safely using video meetings,” Dr. Kacka said.
State public health officials recommend South Carolinians limit activities in the two weeks before a holiday gathering in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. See below for additional tips for reducing our risk of spreading COVID-19 this holiday season.
Lower-risk activities recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include:
- Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
- Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others. Currently, CDC says there is no evidence to suggest that handling or consuming food is associated with COVID-19
- Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
- Shopping online rather than in person
- Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home
Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, short trips by car with members of your own household with no stops along the way are considered low risk. Those traveling longer distances by car should remember that many of their favorite “stopping places” may be closed. “Drive-through only” may also mean restrooms are closed and travelers should plan accordingly. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved. CDC offers more travel tips here.
Be Positive You’re Negative
As with any disease, you can be well today and ill tomorrow. DHEC urges South Carolinians to be positive you’re negative by routinely getting tested if you’re out in the community and to get tested before and after holiday traveling or events.
DHEC testing is free, doesn’t require insurance, and testing options have expanded to include shallow nasal testing, an oral swab, or a saliva test at different locations. With hundreds of testing sites in South Carolina, find a testing location near you by visiting scdhec.gov/findatest or calling 1-855-472-3432. Look for the sites marked “free.” Community partner testing sites may ask about insurance, require referrals or appointments, or be low- or no-cost.
Answer the Call
If you test positive for COVID-19, one of DHEC’s trained case investigators will call you. Please answer the call. Information collected by DHEC is voluntary and confidential, and this information helps keep those around you safe while helping us learn more about the virus.
View DHEC’s COVID-19 Thanksgiving safety tips at scdhec.gov/holidaytips. The CDC provides a complete set of recommendations and rates holiday activities from lower risk to higher risk.