Health District Recommends Thanksgiving Gatherings Only Include Household Members

COVID-19 spike expected, highest risk for those with underlying health conditions

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a press release issued by the Washoe County Health District 

Nov. 12, 2020. Reno/Sparks, NV – The Washoe County Health District is recommending that residents refrain from attending or hosting any Thanksgiving gatherings with people outside of your household due to risk of COVID-19 transmission and the complications it can have on vulnerable populations.

With Thanksgiving two weeks away, the Health District urges residents to maintain gatherings with members of your household and find ways to spend time with friends and family in a non-contact setting, such as through phone or virtually. The recommendation also includes avoiding air travel.

“We understand the historical and traditional significance of Thanksgiving and know this is a difficult time for many,” District Health Officer Kevin Dick said. “We anticipate increased community spread during Thanksgiving due to social gatherings. My fear is that it will adversely impact our elderly residents and those with underlying health conditions. My plea to you is to think about those in your life who fit that category, whether it’s your parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents or even great grandparents. I urge you to make that sacrifice to protect them.”

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Washoe County and has led to 212 deaths since March. The risk to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions like obesity and hypertension are significant.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has defined underlying health conditions that can lead to higher risk for COVID-19 implications. They include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Heart conditions (heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies)
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • See full list

The CDC has also recommended safer ways to celebrate Thanksgiving if you plan to gather with non-household members. Wearing a face covering, maintaining social distancing of 6 feet (keep in mind for chairs and tables as well) and frequent hand washing are the main ones. Other safe measures include:

  • Limit gathering in kitchen or other food-prep areas
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils
  • Eat outdoors or keep windows open indoors, if weather permits
  • Have guests bring their own food and drinks
  • Communicate expectations ahead of time

The most common activity associated with COVID-19 cases in Washoe County has been small gatherings like holiday celebrations, barbecues, birthday parties, weddings and other social activities. More information on COVID-19 in Washoe County can be found on our COVID-19 Dashboard.

The Washoe County Health District is nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board and has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.