Coronavirus

Thanksgiving is full of traditions and centered around family, but health experts warn that with community spread of the coronavirus, it might be time to make new traditions or forgo time with extended families.

Cullman Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Smith said families should limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people, and, if possible, stay outdoors, distance and wear masks. “Be especially careful about gathering with family or friends who may have traveled from out of town or state, especially if they are coming from an area with a high number of COVID cases,” he said.

The stats on COVID-19 cases in Cullman County have seen some improvement recently. The county has moved from “very high risk” to “moderate risk” on the state’s risk assessment dashboard, and the number of cases reported in a 24 hour period have been declining since Nov. 12 when 112 cases were reported in a single day. Although case numbers continue to rise - coming close to 4,000 county-wide since March - Smith said the rate of positives are declining by about 10 percent.

“We hope this means we’ve hit our peak and are on the decline,” said Vice President of Marketing and Communications Lindsey Dossey. The hospital this week reported 54 patients with COVID-19, 12 of which were on ventilators. Thirty-four Cullman County residents have died from COVID-19.

Smith said people should continue following CDC guidelines: wash hands, social distance, wear masks and stay home when sick. Also, “If you have been advised to quarantine, honor that and be strict about the quarantine,” he said. “Recommendations for specific people to quarantine are to limit high risk exposures.”

He recognizes that Thanksgiving presents a challenge for families deciding whether or not to host or attend family gatherings. “This is probably the hardest decision for our community,” he said. “We’re southerners. We gather around food. It’s part of our culture and who we are.”

He offered the following considerations for planning holiday gatherings:

Limit the number gathering to 10 or fewer.

Assess everyone prior to the event to ensure no one with a possible exposure is in attendance.

Wear masks to gather and congregate indoors.

Have separate tables for each family/household to have their meal; OR have masked gatherings followed by a carryout meal for everyone to take their meals home to eat with their household.

Make traditional dishes and have a front porch dish swap with family outside of your household.

Amy Henderson can be reached at 256-734-2131 Ext. 216.

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