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Thanksgiving gatherings a potential 'superspreader.' These tips can help avoid COVID spread.

Joseph Spector
New York State Team

ALBANY - New York officials are urging residents to keep their Thanksgiving dinners small as a way to curb the spread of coronavirus, fearing large gatherings could become "superspreader" events.

Already New York is reporting daily COVID-19 cases totals that haven't been found since May, and holiday gatherings could further heighten the surge, officials said.

"I believe this situation is going to continue to deteriorate over the coming weeks," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday. "I think you'll see an increasing rise in the number of cases."

New York and New Jersey have both enacted orders that limit private, in-house gatherings to no more than 10 people in advance of the holiday season. New Jersey is breaking daily records of cases already.

“This will not be a normal a holiday season, and it’s incumbent on all of us to avoid the type of gatherings that have proven to be particularly dangerous places for COVID-19 to spread,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said residents should keep their Thanksgiving celebrations small and as safe as possible.

“This is the year to make your Thanksgiving gathering more intimate, and to cherish your immediate family members and traditions," Latimer said.

In addition to small gatherings, the Westchester County Health Department offered these tips to follow:

Roberta and Bob Lasky of Pleasantville, parents of a daughter at Skidmore College and a son at Horace Greeley High School, have decided not to invite extended family for Thanksgiving because of COVID concerns. It will only be the four of them. Roberta and Bob Lasky at home with their Thanksgiving table decor Nov. 4, 2020 in Pleasantville.

Bring in fresh air

Open the windows -- the wider the better and as many as possible -- to promote cross-ventilation.

Run your kitchen exhaust fan.

Or even invite your guests to wear masks and meet you for a walk, a turkey trot or a hike in a park.

Leave it to the chef

Keep guests out of the kitchen.

Avoid passing platters from person to person.

Designate one person with gloved hands to serve buffet style from a central location.

Consider making side dishes in single-serving bowls and using single service plates and utensils.

Mask up or stay home

Wash or sanitize hands frequently.

Have your guests wear a mask unless they are eating or drinking.

Ask your guests to reduce their contacts and potential exposures for the two weeks prior to their visit.

Remind your guests to stay home if they have any COVID symptoms or a fever, are awaiting COVID test results, or are under quarantine or isolation orders.

Have your returning college student limit his or her exposure to others and get tested this week, next week and a day or two before returning home.

College students should also wear a mask throughout their travel home when around others, whether by plane, train or car, with windows open.

“It is especially important to keep uninvited germs out of your holiday meal, so wash your hands thoroughly when you arrive and before you take that first bite," Westchester Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler said.

"Good hand hygiene can help reduce the risk of flu, Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses.”

More:New York, New Jersey limiting private gatherings to 10 people. How will it be enforced?

More:Pa. has no plans for new statewide restrictions amid rising COVID-19 cases, health secretary says

Joseph Spector is the Government and Politics Editor for the USA TODAY Network's Atlantic Group, overseeing coverage in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany

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