St. Louis County officials urge residents not to gather with extended families for Thanksgiving

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By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

As part of a stay-at-home advisory that went into effect last week and extends for three more weeks, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and other county officials are encouraging residents to avoid gatherings with those who don’t live in their house, including for holiday gatherings like Thanksgiving.

Officials have partially blamed the current surge in cases and hospitalizations on large gatherings surrounding Halloween, and the county is now officially discouraging large family gatherings for the holidays.

“We have to be cautious around our holidays — this is not going to be a holiday season like anyone has seen in the past 100 years. We have to limit gatherings, we have to limit gatherings in people’s homes,” Page said. “Folks that are traveling in and out of the community are at grave risk to bring COVID to others. We have to take this very seriously. We do recognize that limiting holiday gatherings is going to be very difficult — it’s where we are until we reach the other side of this, but the next few months is going to be very difficult for everyone. There will be a great deal more loss of life and a great deal more sacrificed in the community.”

If residents feel it’s necessary to have contact with people outside their household, St. Louis County officials are asking those residents to form “bubbles” of 10 friends and family that are the only people they see outside the house. If anyone in the bubble gets sick, everyone else must be contacted and quarantined. The members of the bubble are still required to wear masks and socially distance when gathering.

Family members should especially stay away from each other if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, but St. Louis County Department of Public Health interim co-director Spring Schmidt has noted how many cases there are of asymptomatic spread in the community.

Because of that, Schmidt is also asking residents to rethink their holiday plans.

“These are the people that I care about the most,” Schmidt said. “Caring about them the most means that I need to protect them.”

The county sent out an official notice that said: “Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are fun but this year, it’s a time to take responsibility and celebrate Thanksgiving safely. Gatherings outside your family or support bubble can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household.”

The county is asking residents to “please consider” other Thanksgiving activities such as:

Host a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends and family who don’t live with you

  • Schedule a time to share a meal together virtually.
  • Have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing, or other dishes they prepared.

Watch television and play games with people in your household

  • Watch Thanksgiving Day parades, sports, and movies at home.
  • Find a fun game to play.

Shopping

  • Shop online sales the day after Thanksgiving and days leading up to the winter holidays.
  • Use contactless services for purchased items, like curbside pick-up.

If you have a college student returning home, please remember that any form of travel involves some amount of risk. Consider the following safety measures to help stop the spread:

  • Have the student get tested — but don’t rely exclusively on test results.
  • Limit social activities starting now.
  • Wear a mask, remain socially distant and wash your hands.

Please also be sure to check out the FAQ portion of the new public-health orders online that can be found here: What are the New Public Health Orders and What do They Mean for Me?  Additional Thanksgiving information can also be found online here.