AUSTIN, Texas - On Tuesday afternoon, Austin Public Health sent out an alert through the “Warn Central Texas” system. They are warning residents to not gather with people who they do not live with for the Thanksgiving holiday.
In Austin Public Health's weekly commissioner's court update, Dr. Jason Pickett laid out what people should be doing--or should not doing this Thanksgiving. “We recommend you not gather with people you do not live with,” he said.
Last week, Austin/Travis County entered stage four risk guidelines for COVID-19...the numbers are showing an upward trend, signaling a doubling down on masking, social distancing, and proper hygiene. The key indicator of where we are in the pandemic is hospital admissions...and that number is increasing.
“When we look at the number of ICU beds that we have available we seem to have enough beds, we seem to have enough equipment, but our limiting factor is staff,” said Picket.
Pickett gave some alternatives to the typical feast with dozens of people. “Gathering indoors in large groups without masks is about the highest risk thing you can do. If you do decide to do so, there are steps you can take to reduce that risk. Stagger people who are visiting so you don't have 20 or 30 people all together in the room at the same time,” he said.
Picket also advises to have dinner outside, if you have a large group. Seeing family in person is ideal, but many agree that it's not worth the risk.
“We aren’t planning anything, just staying home making sure our families are going to be safe. Maybe Zoom calls or just Facetiming,” said Jessica Escobar-Botello, who is visiting from Frisco.
“We have a big barbecue smoker, we thought why not? The weather is going to be nice hopefully, keeping it safe, outdoors, immediate family only,” said Lenae Fahrenbruch,” who drove in from Wisconsin.
COVID-19 is forcing the country to reevaluate how to celebrate the holidays...what happens this week can set the course for the remainder of the pandemic. “The Salt Lake County Health Department put out a post that is very clear and says Thanksgiving leftovers won't taste as good if you're on a ventilator. In fact, if you’ve got COVID-19 they won’t taste like anything at all,” said Commissioner Brigid Shea.
Pickett noted that several families have been devastated by the pandemic, shortly after gathering for big holidays this year, such as Easter, Memorial Day, and Independence Day.