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Wear The Gown: Holiday gatherings and the coronavirus

The safest option is to have no gathering at all.

SAN ANTONIO — We are just one week away from Thanksgiving but nowhere near the end of the coronavirus pandemic. Tonight we look into how you can do Thanksgiving with as little risk as possible so you and your family can enjoy more Thanksgivings for years to come. 

"We've become used to hearing 10 people maximum for any type of gathering, but instead of thinking of a specific number like that, think of it in terms of layers of risk," said Dr. Jason Bowling, the staff epidemiologist for University Health. "Each additional person that comes in adds a layer of risk. Adds some risk because those people coming in could potentially be infected and cause an increased risk of transmission."

He also says even with family and friends, you need to stay vigilant. 

"We tend to drop our guard around people that we know love and trust, family and friends so we all want to see our family and friends these holidays, but we have to recognize that risk of transmission is really there," Dr. Bowling said. 

And don't rely on rapid tests to clear your guests beforehand. 

"You get a rapid test, you can get a negative test that might be a false negative test and you could still have the virus," Dr. Bowling said.

If you do have any guests over for the holidays stagger the times people are eating, wear a mask except for the time you are eating or drinking, try to have your guests outdoors, and avoid buffet style meals.

"That is also more time people may have their mask down while they are eating over the food that's being shared, so there's more risk those respiratory droplets could be in the food or on the handles and people could transmit infection that way,"  Dr. Bowling added.

But if you are having any guests over who are traveling Dr. Bowling says be prepared. 

"If somebody is going to staying with you, you need to have a plan of what to do if that person or yourself gets sick during their stay, because obviously you've really increased the risk that somebody's going to get COVID-19 as well," he said.

Dr. Bowling says with a vaccine not that far away, the best way to enjoy the holidays this year is to Zoom or video conference now so you can hug later. 

For more information about family health call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of Wear The Gown stories, just go to WearTheGown.com.