DENVER — Asking Coloradans to stay home during one of the biggest holiday gatherings of the year is a tough sell, but the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says lives depend on it.
“Imagine a future where you did travel and met with friends, and somebody got sick with COVID, and worst-case scenario, they passed away from COVID. Now you are going to have this memory of Thanksgiving going forward,” Dr. France, Chief Medical Officer for CDPHE, said.
The health department is encouraging virtual Thanksgiving celebrations and asking people not to celebrate or gather with anyone outside their household.
“It’s all about being thankful for family and friends being thankful at home in your household, not going to travel, not meeting with others outside your household,” Dr. Eric France with CDPHE said.
If you are still planning on holding a party with friends and family, health officials ask that you keep it outdoors, have everyone wear masks and social distance. You should also take steps to disinfect countertops and other high-touch surfaces continuously.
Governor Jared Polis warned that if you had a Thanksgiving celebration with 10 people, including some from outside your household, there is a 1 in 4 chance of catching the virus.
“As soon as we come indoors, the risks go up considerably,” Dr. France said.
Many people are getting tested for COVID-19 ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Dr. France says testing is not 100% accurate, and testing negative even the day before Thanksgiving is not a golden ticket for visiting others.
“If I were tested Wednesday then showed up at a friend’s house Thursday after testing negative, I could still have symptoms Friday or Saturday and have been passing the virus,” he said.
Coloradans have been through several stages of public health guidelines trying to curb the spread of the virus.
If people continue to gather it could undo all that hard work and lead to more restrictions.
France says we should also consider the sacrifices of health care workers, who are working around the clock with no holidays off.
“We will back on track the first few weeks of December to higher cases, higher hospitalizations and the risk of having too many cases in our ICUs,” Dr. France said.