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St. Luke's doctor explains how to have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving during a pandemic

Dr. Martha Taylor tells us the safest celebrations will be with members of your household.

BOISE, Idaho — Health experts continue to push for small Thanksgiving gatherings this year only with people who live in your household to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Martha Taylor is the urgent care director with St. Luke's. She tells us the safest celebrations will be with members of your household.

The more we travel and the more people we come in contact with, the greater our chances of getting or spreading COVID-19. 

Here are some recommendations from Dr. Taylor to have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving:

Be Creative

"This is one of those years that you're really going to have to be creative and probably leverage communication in ways that we didn't think of last year. It is definitely recommended that you try to host Thanksgiving in person with just those family members that you live with already. I know many of my family members and I over the last, you know, three to six months have hosted kind of virtual dinner nights where we'll I'll log into a Zoom meeting, and have food and exchange conversation with each other. I know it's not the same as being able to hug your relatives, but it's a very safe way to do it and still engage and feel that that family togetherness during the holidays."

Temporary Isolation versus Mandatory Isolation

"Would you rather, you know have isolation from your family members for six months, or would you rather be isolated and not even be able to see them and then they're there in the ICU they become very, very ill. And there is nothing you can do about it. So there's two different isolation, there's a temporary isolation electively because you're trying to keep yourself and your family members, safe, and then there's the mandatory isolation that happens when you wind up hospitalized and you can't visit your friends and family and nor can they visit you."

What About Air Travel?

"Assuming you are exposed as that traveler to COVID, the day before you left, you fly, or you're exposed the day of when you're in the air, airplane or at the airport, you have that next 14-day window to potentially get sick, and then continue to spread it. So if you are able to get home quarantine for that 14 days, use your Christmas, you know time or use your holiday time off. Stay away from others, you hit 14 days, you had no symptoms you're then safe."

Black Friday Shopping?

"Frankly, I don't know if there's a way to do it in person safely, obviously you can leverage all of the internet sales that they have to be able to get deliveries in that way and then perhaps go shopping later when it's not Black Friday and you're not physically able to socially distance."

Maximum Capacity Concern

"You have a point where you have maximal capacity, there are just no more ventilators. There's no more staff because even the staff can fall ill. There's just no way to allow for any additional patients in that capacity. If you're talking the burst or the spike where we're going to, unfortunately, see if these social distancing cues and your masking and or your travel restrictions aren't self-imposed in the next few weeks I could see that timelines, being significantly sped up to the point where holidays, beginning of the year, we'll be at maximum capacity and just physically not be able to take any more patients. And there's discussions already that you know the east side of Washington, the east side of Oregon, the north side of Utah - those hospital systems are also full. So frankly there will then be nowhere else to send these patients, you know, and that that triage admissions that you're speaking of as callous as it sounds, we could be forced into a corner of having to rank order, the severity of patients that could potentially all be admitted, but if you have three beds for 10 patients - how do you choose? And that is a decision, no physician wants to make."

Dr. Taylor added that this pandemic will not last forever. We will be able to celebrate together in the future, and these are only temporary sacrifices.

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