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With Pandemic Raging, Health Officials Discourage Some Traditional Thanksgiving Activities

Chris Polansky
Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, listens to remarks from Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum at City Hall on Tues., Nov. 10.

Citing the need to address the troublingly high increases in COVID-19 infections throughout Tulsa County, officials are cautioning against many traditional activities associated with the upcoming holidays that may trigger further spread of the coronavirus.

"Traditional Thanksgiving activities like large indoor gatherings at home, packed shopping centers on Black Friday, crowded events like parades and sporting events: These are all high-risk activities that should be avoided to prevent the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, at a Tuesday press conference announced shortly after reports Monday evening that Tulsa hospitals had zero intensive care beds at some point that day.

"Thanksgiving can still be a time of celebration, but it's going to look a little differently than usual," Dart said, recommending either virtual gatherings or ones limited to members of one household.

"Yesterday was my father's 92nd birthday, and I got to call my father in Nebraska and tell him that I'm not coming home for Thanksgiving because I want to keep him safe," said Dart, who mentioned on a Project ECHO videoconference organized by the OSU Center for Health Sciences last week that his mother passed away in February.

"It's been a tough year for my family like everyone else has experienced, so keeping safe is most important, and keeping our family members safe is even more important," Dart said.

THD recommends that if indoor gatherings are held with individuals beyond an immediate household that they be limited to 10 people.

Dr. Jennifer Clark, a physician member of the OSU Center for Health Sciences' Project ECHO faculty team, said Wednesday that Thanksgiving gatherings could be "super-spreader" events, and recommended that anyone choosing to host or attend one should quarantine for a full 14 days before the holiday. 

The state reported 1,248 hospitalized COVID patients Tuesday night, a record high. Tulsa County residents accounted for 291 of those patients, a day-over-day increase of 33. 

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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