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SANTA FE – Health officials at the state of New Mexico on Friday issued Thanksgiving public health guidance to New Mexicans to ensure residents are able to safely navigate the holiday amid the worsening pandemic.

“This is not a normal year,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “This is not a normal holiday season. I know we all wish it weren’t that way, but it is. Gathering for Thanksgiving this year is an extreme risk to the health and safety of your loved ones and friends. Let me be very clear: A Thanksgiving gathering this year may very well lead to a funeral. The virus is at large. Know the risks and respect them.

“I know it’s hard,” the governor said. “I know we’re all so tired. I want to hug my family more than anything in the world. We all do. But please understand it’s not worth the risk. We can replace Thanksgiving dinner. We cannot replace you.” 

“People are carrying the virus without knowing they have it,” said Human Services Secretary David Scrase, M.D. “I’m worried about asymptomatic transmission. I’m worried about people feeling sick yet leaving the house and traveling anyway. There are places in New Mexico where attending a mass gathering carries a 50/50 chance that someone at that event will have COVID-19. The public health crisis this year has never been more dire. There is no zero-risk scenario for gathering with other people right now – even if you wear your masks, even if you keep your distance. Please don’t risk it. Please stay home this holiday.”

“We have to remember: This is not forever,” said Health Secretary-designate Tracie C. Collins, M.D. “We will come together again safely – and soon. If people are worried about hurting anyone’s feelings by telling friends and family they won’t be attending a Thanksgiving meal, they shouldn’t be. Not attending is the best way to show you care. Next year, we will all be honoring family traditions again.”

As a reminder, the state of New Mexico’s emergency public health order, effective through Nov. 30, requires the following:

  • New Mexicans are instructed to shelter in place except for only those trips that are essential to health, safety and welfare – such as for food and water, emergency medical care, to obtain a flu shot or to obtain a test for COVID-19.
  • Only essential businesses may open for limited in-person operations. Businesses no matter their type should be operating in a remote or curbside-only manner to reduce person-to-person contact.
  • Mass gatherings – a group of more than 5 individuals who do not regularly reside with one another – are strictly prohibited.

THANKSGIVING GUIDANCE AND SAFE ALTERNATIVES

  • Do not travel to attend a Thanksgiving gathering – whether in New Mexico or out of state – to mix with another household, either of friends or family. Safe alternative: Traveling incurs unnecessary exposure risk. Have dinner at home. Spend the weekend in your own neighborhood. Wear a mask – covering both your nose and mouth – any time you leave the house, whether you are in contact or near other individuals or not.
  • Do not gather for the Thanksgiving holiday with non-household members. Safe alternative: Connect with friends and relatives over a video chat service. Share recipes, cooking time and time at the table remotely and safely.
  • Do not spend unnecessary time shopping for groceries, and do not make unnecessary supplement trips to the store. Safe alternative: Order groceries online, or make arrangements for curbside pickup. Avoid as much person-to-person contact, and being in the presence of other individuals and especially groups, as much as possible.
  • Do not host or attend a large gathering. Safe alternative: If you do host a small gathering with household members, keep 6 feet of distance, and wear facemasks. Consider setting up a table outside so as to minimize the person-to-person interactions indoors.
  • Support a local business. Consider supporting a local business by ordering takeout or delivery for a smaller, non-traditional Thanksgiving meal. We can all go the extra mile in supporting small New Mexico businesses.

If you choose to attend a holiday gathering with others, you significantly raise the risk of not only contracting the virus yourself but spreading the virus to friends and loved ones.

If you insist upon taking unnecessary risks and attend or host a traditional Thanksgiving celebration, adopt the following safeguards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Strictly limit the number of guests in attendance.
  • Talk with guests ahead of time to set expectations for safely celebrating together.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and items between use.
  • If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows.
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils. Encourage guests to bring their own food and drink.
  • Instruct guests to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after the event.
  • Self-isolate after the gathering with others – symptoms can develop over the course of 2 weeks; even if you do not feel sick, or feel sick immediately, you can spread the virus.

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