Pine Belt doctors share holiday visiting tips

Pine Belt doctors share holiday visiting tips

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - As you prepare for Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, medical experts continue to urge people to remember COVID-19 safety guidelines and celebrate accordingly.

“As we begin Thanksgiving, Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, we want to keep it a wonderful time by not giving the present of COVID-19 to family members who may not be able to tolerate it,” said Dr. Mark Horne of South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel.

Dr. Stephen Farrell of Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg echoed the COVID-19 concerns.

“There is a pandemic going on and we know that when families get together and mingle, younger children who might transmit the virus, might carry the virus, and might not be as sick as older adults, and they share that with much older grandparents or older parents. The risk is that the older adults may get the virus and may not fare so well,” Farrell said.

Medical experts say the best thing you can do is keep your in-person gathering small.

“Keep those gatherings small and to the nuclear family that you are with all the time,” Horne said. “Do not have a lot of friends over, do not have extended family over.”

Farrell agreed, saying, “I think we should still have a little bit of discipline and say let’s make our gatherings smaller let’s do it for shorter periods of time.”

If you are gathering for Thanksgiving, outside is the safer option.

“If you can hold your gathering outside under a carport or an outdoor structure or something, please do,” Horne said. “All that extra air exchange helps reduce the risk of the spread of the virus.”

If people do want to interact with older relatives or at-risk family members, Horne suggests planning a drive-by or short outdoor drop-by.

If you are hosting a variety of ages, Horne suggests wearing a mask while visiting and having dining tables in separate rooms for older relatives and children.

“Space out at the table, don’t sit all bunched up at the table,” Horne said. “Limit that amount of time that you’re without your mask.”

Horne said a safe holiday will help prevent another spike that could overwhelm hospitals.

“Please, we are pleading with you from a public health standpoint, do everything you can to limit the potential for spread of COIVD-19 in your holiday gatherings,” Horne said.

Doctors say a great alternative to seeing extended family and friends in person is to video chat with them. The video conference site Zoom is removing time limits on video calls for Thanksgiving Day.

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