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Thanksgiving safety strategies

When it comes to gaming your holiday gathering, medical experts shared how "sticking to your bubble," is the best way to stay safe during the pandemic.

With Thanksgiving one week from today, some of you may still be on the fence about what to do on the holiday.

There’s a lot of buzz lately from medical professionals encouraging people to "stay in their bubble."

So what’s that all mean?

Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey explored that topic on Thursday and shared how some of you are changing your plans this holiday season due to COVID-19.

Before any of us can say "gobble gobble" this year, medical experts say we have to think about our gatherings. 

"So everybody likes Thanksgiving. It's been an American tradition. We all want to celebrate it. But this is different. You know, with COVID-19 cases rising all across the country, it is important to enjoy Thanksgiving with your immediate family, meaning people who live within your household, who you interact with regularly on a daily basis," Dr. Ali Chittalia, a Geisinger primary care physician said.

That’s what Dr. Chittalia considers the people in “our bubble.” 

Dr. Chittalia used the phrase “physical distancing" because he says, while social distancing is all the buzz, still finding ways to stay connected, especially over the holidays, is important not just for our physical health, but mental health too. 

"I do not want to see socially distant, socially cut off families. Do it virtually so everybody can be together and have a great time," Dr. Ali Chittalia said.

"You can set a table and have your computer there at the table. Where your guests, who had originally invited, can view your family dining in your home with their family. Also, possibly play some type of games, for example, maybe you can have a piece of paper and say what you are thankful for, and then everyone can hold them up and to share as if they're having a dinner conversation."

"Pandem-equette is when you want to politely decline invitations to events such as the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Basically, what you're really trying to do is you say to the person, I cannot attend your event because I want to protect you (especially if you and your family have been working and interacting with more than the people in your household)." But thank them for the invitation to Thanksgiving dinner.

CDC Thanksgiving Guidelines

Doing a virtual dinner with your extended family and friends is not only safer but a lot less stressful, especially when you see the CDC’s guidelines for Thanksgiving gatherings during COVID-19. Among them: encourage people to bring their own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils to a loved one's house. And, maybe even asking your visitors to join you for that meal outside. 

 "It's hard. And then you know what? You are better off being in your house," Dr. Ali Chittalia said.

Here's the latest information from Geisinger for our area

The facts were provided to Newswatch 16 on Tuesday night, November 18:

"Geisinger is continuing to see record numbers of COVID-19 activity in northeastern and central Pennsylvania. On November 9, Geisinger hospitals set a new record for inpatients with COVID-19, and that number has increased every day since. Geisinger is admitting one person every hour to the hospital with COVID-19."

Why is Geisinger seeing this? 

It’s because of full-blown community spread. This virus doesn’t care who it infects. This fall, Geisinger has seen more positive COVID-19 patients, especially among those in their 20s and 50s. In November, the healthcare system saw a jump among those in their 30s. More than 40 percent of our hospitalized patients are under age 65.

As a healthcare provider, we understand there is fatigue in our communities surrounding COVID-19, but our neighbors continue to get sick and die from this virus. We all have a role to play in stopping this surge, and that means taking those preventive measures – wearing a mask, avoiding large and small gatherings, distancing, and handwashing.

More COVID-19 resources from Geisinger: 

Head here or call the nurse triage hotline at 570-284-3657.