The Cdc refuse one should travel this year, and Thanksgiving celebrations ought to be limited to people who live in all your family members. Kentucky’s guidelines refuse more than two households are allowed to get together.

Experts say there’s no real way to eliminate the chance of transmission within this setting. However, you can mitigate the risk if you’ve chosen to get together with those outside all your family members. WFPL’s Kate Howard spoke with Neysa Ernst, the nurse manager at Johns Hopkins’ biocontainment unit for patients with contagious diseases, about her suggested precautions.

Questions and answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

Can you know me a tiny bit regarding your opinion of the holidays and just how people should address it, when it comes to gathering?

I think people should stick to the same advice that was handed in 1918 throughout the pandemic, that was to lessen holiday gatherings, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s.

Our governor, Andy Beshear, talks about 1918 a great deal during the pandemic… His guidance continues to be that no more than two households and eight people is deserving of together. What exactly are your ideas with that guidance?

Neysa Ernst

So I personally needed to send communication to my employees last Friday that said a healthcare facility recommendations aren't any travel, no Thanksgiving with any members outside of your immediate family – we refer to it as your bubble. And thus within the bubble are extremely people that you’ve known for quite a long time, and you’re all making the same commitments. Which bubble is actually no bigger than eight or 10. But [for us], no people outside of your immediate household- and no travel. That was the hospital’s recommendation, and that was the CDC recommendation, too.

I think it’s safe to assume that, using the governor’s recommendation being as much as two households, that lots of people in Kentucky can get together with another household. What are some things that they can do in order to do this safely?

You need to remember, first of all, the 3 pillars: mask, social distance and hand hygiene (not mask OR social distance since you need both). And it’s really important to mask even with your loved ones. One thing that we’ve learned at Johns Hopkins is that lots of community spread develops from a situation where you were sharing a meal, and you've got your mask removed, and you’re not six feet from someone. In those situations, we found that that’s with individuals that you trust a great deal. And you’re saying, ‘I trust you, I understand you’re following a guidelines.’ However the community spread is so large.

It almost feels like we’ve we’ve surpassed the question of trust. If you’re doing everything right, you’re still at risk.

It is, really. I've employees which come back positive, and they literally sit in my office and say, ‘Neysa, I have no idea how this happened.’ I will tell you I’m unaware of any patient to employee transmission in the hospital, so the concept of personal protective gear works. And so inside a modified fashion in your house, you certainly don’t need to dress like spacemen like we do, but you will need to have a mask. And also you do need to stay six feet from someone, again, just because the risk is so high.

So considering how a Thanksgiving dinner usually goes, usually food all over the table type of serving yourself. What are some ways you can mitigate the risk?

This may be the year to create good quality plans in advance.

Any good host this year ought to be including in his or her invitations, ‘If you don’t feel well, you can call me even in the last minute,’ and make that a gracious out for somebody. We must change behavior. If you think unwell, just call your host or hostess and believe me they will respect that a lot everyone else at the party.

And then you say, ‘If you’re likely to come to my home, I’ve invited six of you. That’s all I can accommodate. Don’t appear having a lost soul. And my expectation is that you’re likely to mask and I’m likely to have a unique seating arrangement.’ And then when someone comes to your house and doesn’t participate in that, you have to be able to get comfortable saying you have to place your mask on. You have to walk around with a tape measure because masking, social distancing and hand hygiene are actually, until we get a vaccine, lifesavers at this time.

I would avoid a buffet if I absolutely possibly could. But maybe one individual at a time gets into [the kitchen] filling your plate after which coming back, and sitting in a table that’s far away from someone else.

Do such things as possess a contest for the best mask. Have a contest for that person that really can know very well what six feet is. You realize, get this to fun, especially for children. Write down their memories of Thanksgiving 2021 making that part of your story. Because it’s not going to be by doing this the coming year. I hope.

And, you realize, the virtual concept – I can’t say enough about this. We’re establishing a virtual number of virtual calls with each side in our family- I think the later ones will be more interesting because the more alcohol is consumed. But you know, that’s the fun of it, right? I mean, this is a weird year, and we have to find some joy throughout this.

So when you’re having dinner, hopefully you've them spaced out. People are masking when they’re not eating. They’re not singing, or doing other activities which are higher risk. Most of us don’t have hospital-type ventilation, so is it useful to keep the windows open and switch from the heat?

Yes, it really is helpful. Indoor spaces without good ventilation increase the risk for herpes spread. So yes, opening a window, maybe doing a little bit of entertaining around the porch, if the weather will permit that.

Let's say you're going to a home where Grandma and Grandpa are. Even if you have a mask: hugs or no hugs?


Do not hug Grandpa and grandma.

No hugs for Grandpa and grandma. Be really careful. I recieve these statements constantly: 'Well, I’m a hugger.' And my fact is, 'Well, not this year.'

Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you think it’s vital that you mention?

I think it’s important to point out that this can be a really hard time for everyone. And that, you realize, if you’ve made the choice to get home, if you made the choice to travel this year, then you need to become really responsible to another people at this event. And also you have to be hyper vigilant, because there is a lot spread locally. Even small encounters with individuals can cause a variety. The responsibility is really you to make sure that everybody gets using this holiday safely.