Reconnecting with family and friends around the table sharing a good meal and expressing our gratitude for the gifts we’ve been given — all of that is at the heart of Thanksgiving. It’s also one of the riskiest things we can do right now for our health and the health and lives of our loved ones.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills.
I have three brothers, a sister, five daughters, and five grandchildren, including two little girls that I love to hug and hang out with — I would love to get together with them over the holidays, but I don’t want COVID-19 to be the uninvited guest in our home.
For the upcoming holiday, some of my family will be hunting; some will be hiking; most will be outdoors in some way, and some will be taking part in a small, safely distanced get-together, with face coverings and inviting others to join virtually. It won’t be the same as everyone getting together in-person, but it will allow us to see each other, talk to each other, while making sure we are all safe – and that is what is most important now.
We’re all in the same boat here. So as you make plans for Thanksgiving, please consider whether an in-person gathering is absolutely necessary — although it’d be nice, but is it necessary? — and, if you think it is, how can you make it safer. Please remember that while a negative test is another tool to help you stay safe, it is just a snapshot in time. It’s not a free pass to skip the simple actions that we know limit the spread of the virus.
If you plan to host or attend any in-person gathering over the holiday season, anywhere, outdoors or indoors, consider taking the following steps recommended by the U.S. CDC to reduce COVID-19 transmission:
- Limit the total number of people you invite to allow people from different households to stay six feet apart.
- Host outdoor, rather than indoor gatherings. I know we are entering the colder months, but crowded, poorly ventilated spaces pose a big risk of COVID-19 spread.
- If you do host an indoor event of any kind, open the windows and doors to allow for greater air circulation.
- Have everyone wear face coverings when they are not actually eating or drinking. It’s important to remember that even with face coverings, people from different households should stay six feet apart from each other.
- Make sure your bathroom is stocked with enough soap and single use towels, or provide hand sanitizer as well if soap and water aren’t readily available, so guests can clean their hands often.
- Try to limit contact with commonly touched surfaces and items, like serving utensils. Have one person who is wearing a mask serve food to everyone. That’s safer than everyone using the same spoon out of a bowl of mashed potatoes.
- Wash dishes right after dinner, as well as tablecloths or cloth napkins you may have used. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and use gloves and wash your hands when handling or disposing of trash as well.
All of these tips are found at the national CDC.Gov website.
We got news recently that two vaccine candidates are showing promise, but the fact is returning to normal life sometime next year, which we hope for, first requires us to survive the holidays this year.
To the Maine people who are listening, it’s not fair that so much has been placed on your shoulders these last few months. I want you to know that I am thankful for the ways you have adapted to keep us all safe.
Please hang in there, hope is on the horizon.
Meanwhile, wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands.
Keep the faith. We will get through this and we will have so much more to be thankful for next Thanksgiving.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.