Here’s how to protect against COVID-19 this Thanksgiving

CHICAGO — Officials are urging people to exercise caution as they gather for Thanksgiving this Thursday.

Millions of people in the United States are expected to travel and gather for the holidays — but it’s coming as Chicago and nearby areas find themselves in the midst of another wave of COVID-19.

Local and state officials have recommended that people who are not fully vaccinated stay at home and avoid travel, while saying fully vaccinated people can safely gather and enjoy the holidays.

“The risk decreases so much … we can actually have a normal Thanksgiving gathering,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, chief of the Chicago Department of Public Health, earlier this week. “And that’s all thanks to the vaccine.”

Still, the state’s health department has released guidelines for how people can stay safe for the holidays:

In general:

  • You and your guests will have the most protection if you have all been fully vaccinated and, if eligible, have received a booster vaccination.
  • Stay home if you have symptoms of illness and get tested for COVID-19.
  • Consider organizing activities virtually, for example by sharing traditional family recipes.
  • Carol in smaller groups outside.

When you get together:

  • Keep indoor gatherings small. Consider wearing a well-fitting mask indoors to prevent spread and protect people who have not been fully vaccinated.
  • Use hand sanitizer after shaking hands and wash your hands regularly.
  • Arrange chairs so that people are within physical distance.
  • You can increase the airflow in by opening windows and/or doors.
  • Avoid congregating, such as in the kitchen or at a buffet.
  • If possible, put the guests’ food on the table and serve it to them to avoid crowding in a buffet area.
  • Clean and sanitize the kitchen, bathrooms and other areas used by guests.
  • Encourage people to get vaccinated before congregating.
  • Gathering outdoors, weather permitting, is the safest option to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
  • If you are meeting in a covered, public area, wear a mask, wash your hands, keep physical distance and try to avoid crowded places.

If you are traveling:

  • Here’s the latest update on Chicago travel advice.
  • Do not travel until you are fully vaccinated, or wait to get your booster shot if you are eligible.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated but decide to travel anyway, get yourself tested one to three days before departure and three to five days after travel.
  • Travel during off-peak hours to avoid large crowds.
  • Drive a car to reduce exposure to COVID-19.
  • If you use public transport, such as a train or bus, try to travel during off-peak hours. Masks are mandatory on public transport and in transit hubs such as airports and train stations.

You can read more state guidelines here.

vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 7.3 million people — or 57.68 percent of the state’s 12.7 million residents — have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Statewide, 64,199 doses of vaccine are administered per day, based on a seven-day moving average.

• Illinois and Chicago administered at least 17,031,036 vaccine doses of the 20,050,445 delivered to them.

• City data shows that more than 1.6 million Chicago residents — or 60.8 percent of all residents — have been fully vaccinated, and 67.8 percent of all Chicago residents have received at least one shot.

Anyone 5 years and older is eligible for vaccination in Chicago.

Vaccinations against COVID-19 are free and require no insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to learn more about how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Nineteen Illinois residents have died from COVID-19 since Tuesday.

• At least 26,313 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,945 deaths are likely related to the virus, the state said.

• The state has reported 5,058 cases since Tuesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois to 1,784,900.

• As of Tuesday, 139,801 tests have been reported statewide. A total of 38,528,321 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was 3.3 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people who tested positive under recent tests. Tuesday it stood at 3.3 percent.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was 4.1 percent. Tuesday it stood at 4.1 percent.

• As of Tuesday evening, 384 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 150 people with COVID-19 were on ventilators in Illinois.

• One death has been reported in Chicago since Tuesday. At least 5,985 have been killed by COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than three people die a day, 10 percent less than a week ago.

• 614 confirmed cases have been reported in Chicago since Tuesday. It has had a total of 340,273 confirmed cases. An average of 584 confirmed cases are reported per day, an increase of 13 percent from the previous week.

• Chicago testing is up 6 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was 3 percent, up from 2.7 percent the previous week.

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