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DSHS shares advice for a safe, healthy Thanksgiving

Last updated on November 19, 2020

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With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Texas enters the holiday season at a time when COVID-19 is spreading rapidly and hospitalizations continue to rise throughout the state. The Texas Department of State Health Services is providing guidance on how to decrease the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus to protect yourself, your family and your community.

One of the things that makes the holiday season special is spending time with family and friends. This year, it will be safer to celebrate in person with the people who live in your household and connect virtually with those who live elsewhere.

One of the safest ways to celebrate is with a virtual Thanksgiving dinner. Friends and family can gather in their own homes and connect online or by phone as they sit down to dinner together. Other safe activities include watching parades, sports and holiday movies at home or making a meal for a neighbor and delivering it without direct contact.

If you do choose to gather with people you don’t live with, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19:

  • Talk ahead of time to set expectations about the precautions everyone should be taking.
  • Keep gatherings small.
  • Wear a mask with multiple layers that completely covers your nose and mouth.
  • Always maintain six feet of physical distance between people who don’t live together.
  • Gather and eat outside. If you choose to be inside, improve ventilation by opening windows.
  • Have guests bring their own food rather than sharing dishes and utensils.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect items and surfaces touched by multiple people.

People should avoid large gatherings, including crowded stores on Black Friday and at other peak shopping times. Instead, shop online, when it is less busy, or in open air markets where physical distancing is possible. As always, washing your hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when you’re sick will help prevent COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses from spreading.

DSHS is launching video and radio ads in English and Spanish reminding people how to celebrate safely throughout the holiday season. They are available at

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