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Dr. Christ says her COVID concern level over Thanksgiving is 9 out of 10

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials are extremely worried that Thanksgiving gatherings will throw gasoline onto the state’s coronavirus fire.

“We have been significantly concerned about Thanksgiving for a while,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday, one week before the holiday.

“I would say my level of concern is at a 9 [on a 1-10 scale].”

Christ said she can understand COVID-19 fatigue and people’s desire to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family. But if they do, she said they should practice the same mitigation measures they take when out and about during the pandemic, such as mask wearing and social distancing.

“What we are seeing is it spreads very easily in households or small household gatherings,” she said.

“People are very good about going to wear the mask when they go pick up takeout from the restaurant, when they’re around strangers, taking it home to have dinner with their friends in what they feel is a safe setting. And it is not.”

She said people with conditions that put them at high risk for complications if they contract COVID-19 – including lung disease, heart disease, obesity and autoimmune disorders — should only spend time with others from their own households.

“If you do expand beyond those that you live with, make sure that you are physically distancing, that you are moving it outdoors, and that you are wearing a mask,” Christ said.

“Even if it is your family or your closest friends, if you don’t live with them, please wear a mask.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday issued a recommendation against any travel during next week’s holiday.

The CDC’s Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz cited more than 1 million new cases in the U.S. over the past week as the reason for the new guidance

“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household,” she said.

On Wednesday, Arizona’s health department issued a Thanksgiving “menu” of health tips:

  • Celebrate outdoors, in your yard or a local park.
  • Minimize the number of guests.
  • Maintain physical distance and don’t touch anybody you don’t live with.
  • Wear masks of you gather with people from outside your household.
  • Consider virtual meetings to bring family and friends together.
  • Do not do self-serve or buffet-style service.
  • Wash hands before and after preparing and serving food and eating.
  • Provide each guest with a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer.

“These simple steps will help slow the spread and help reduce the risk of increased cases after the holiday,” Christ said during a press conference Wednesday. “We want all Arizonans to stay safe during the holidays.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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