Thanksgiving dinner plans are somewhat different for families in 2020 due to the pandemic

Posted at 8:28 AM, Nov 07, 2020

For Laurie Boloven-Castillo, a holiday family gathering isn’t complete without a holiday family feast.

"Normally we have a huge Thanksgiving at my parent's house and it consists of my parents, me and my three sisters, we all have families of our own now," said Boloven-Castillo.

Typically by now, she’d be menu prepping for a gathering of 25 family members but this year, she’ll be breaking bread with just her own.

"I have decided that um, I’m going to celebrate with my kids and their dad," she says.

The Boloven family Thanksgiving is taking a hiatus this year due to exposure concerns, with some of the family working outside the home, some doing in-person schooling and others, like Laurie's mom, in a higher risk pool due to age.

"She’s very fearful of COVID, she says that she’s had 64 Thanksgivings, good Thanksgivings, and she can afford to sit one out," said Boloven-Castillo. "So instead, we’re going to make to go plates, and deliver them to my parents."

Laurie is not alone, many Metro Detroiter's feeling the pinch to adapt.

"We’ll do Facetiming to say hello," said one woman we spoke with a few days ago.

There are some that plan to hang onto the tradition.

"I'm gonna gather for the holiday," said another woman. "We’re expecting 20 or 30 people."

More people taking that view than you might think when I surveyed viewers on Twitter, 32% said they would gather with precautions, and another 32% said they’d gather, with none.

Physician Rana Awdish is not at all surprised by those results.

"We tend to think of our families as a safe space," said Dr. Awdish.

But that safe space is now questionable with coronavirus cases surging due in part to an increase in indoor socializing.

"Do you think it is possible to gather safely with your family over the holidays?" Ameera David asked.

"During a pandemic, nothing is zero risk. We’ve learned that the hard way, what we have to do is think about the ways we can mitigate that risk," said Dr. Rana Awdish, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Henry Ford Health System.

The Michigan Health Department says the safest gathering is a small one, with just your immediate family. as for extended family and friends? gathering outdoors would make it 20 times less risky.

If indoors, experts say you’ll need to limit your guests to under ten people. Have everyone wear a mask and only taking it off to eat.

Consider opening windows to increase ventilation and don’t share utensils.

Some Metro Detroiter's we talked to said they’d rely on testing alone to prevent exposure.

"If everybody gets a COVID test, is that a viable way to kind of root out the risk and have a peace of mind before you gather?" asked Ameera.

"No test is perfectly sensitive or specific," said Dr. Awdish. "Those negative tests you can still be in a window of exposure."

As the doctor said nothing is zero risk, so regardless of how you observe the holiday - keep safety top of mind.