The COVID-19 pandemic is causing families to make difficult decisions about bringing elderly loved ones into their 2020 Thanksgiving celebrations. Community Senior Life urges all residents, employees, families, and sponsors to plan ahead and take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and the flu as they celebrate, and to be mindful of the significant potential for infection.

COVID-19 spreads easily whether gatherings are large or small, putting families and friends at risk – especially individuals who are elderly or have underlying medical conditions. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to stay home and celebrate with people already living within your own household. Travel and the introduction of individuals not already abiding in your home increases the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.

“The recent surge of COVID-19 infections in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and across the country mean we must rethink our idea of a traditional Thanksgiving and make tough decisions not for the holiday but for all the days to come,” said Dan Scarbrough, M.D., Community Senior Life Medical Director. “Furthermore, I agree with senior CDC officials who have addressed this issue and delivered guidance on family gatherings, specifically this statement from the CDC” said Dr. Scarbrough, referencing the following quote, “Each family must assess the risk of exposure to COVID-19, especially among elderly or medically fragile individuals, as they weigh the decision to host or attend a holiday gathering. Everyone needs to follow the guidance of wearing a face mask, social distancing, and washing your hands frequently. And get a flu shot.”

If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people you don’t live with, take steps to reduce the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends individuals who have not lived in the household during the two weeks ahead of the holiday (those who reside in Independent settings, Assisted Living or Long-term Care, members of the military or college students home for the holiday) stay in a separate area of the house with a designated bathroom, if possible. Other recommendations include:

Wear a Mask

  • Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19
  • Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face

Stay at Least 6 Feet Away from Others Who Do Not Live with You

Wash Your Hands

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

Attending a Gathering

  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils
  • Wear a mask, and safely store your mask while eating and drinking
  • Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates and utensils

Hosting a Thanksgiving Gathering

  • Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community
  • Limit the number of guests
  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use
  • If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink
  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils

Thanksgiving Travel

  • Check travel restrictions before you go
  • Get your flu shot before you travel
  • Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not in your household
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer
  • Avoid traveling in groups where you are unable to socially distance while in the vehicle

For more information about safely celebrating Thanksgiving log on to

Together, we continue to do everything we can to prevent the virus from spreading to any of our employees or residents. We will continue to post updates as they arise via social media, our website, and internal communications with our employees, residents, and family members. To get the latest updates, join our contact list by complete the form here.