COVID-19 Update: Health officials offer tips for a happy Thanksgiving gathering
COTTONWOOD — State health officials are stressing to families everywhere that it’s more important than ever to plan ahead for a safe and happy gathering during Thanksgiving next week.
“There are ways to enjoy holiday traditions and connect with your loved ones while protecting yourself, your family, and your community,” former U.S. Surgeon General and current Gov. Doug Ducey advisor Dr. Richard Carmona said in a statement Friday, Nov. 19. “Making decisions that minimize transmission of COVID-19 and seasonal flu will help maintain hospital capacity for Arizonans who most need it.”
Don Herrington, interim director for the Arizona Department of Health, said vaccines are the “key” to stopping COVID-19.
“The keys to putting COVID-19 in its place, even with the highly infectious Delta variant at work, are in our hands with the availability of safe, free, highly effective, and widely available COVID-19 vaccines and attention to the proven mitigation strategies,” Herrington said.
Carol Lewis, assistant director for Yavapai County Community Health Services, said this year, it’s important not to host, or attend, a Thanksgiving holiday gathering if you are sick, have symptoms or were potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19.
“Even if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, be sure to get your seasonal influenza vaccine as well,” Lewis said in a statement. “You can safely get vaccinated against influenza at the same time you receive a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose.”
Here are a few tips for Thanksgiving:
1) Consider an outdoor gathering;
2) Having participants, even those who are fully vaccinated, wear well-fitting masks over their nose and mouths in any indoor setting with those they don’t live with;
3) Maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from anyone you don’t live with; and
4) Get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms, have been in close contact with someone who is positive, or believe you have been exposed to COVID-19.
On Friday, YCCHS reported 746 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths since Nov. 15.
The county has tested 99,505 residents for COVID-19 in the past six months, and there have been 31,207 positive cases and 759 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Verde Valley Medical Center reported 29 new COVID-19 patients Friday, while Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott and Prescott Valley reported 77 new patients. The Prescott VA has six new patients.
The county is still experiencing high transmission of COVID-19 with a 21.6% positivity rate and 407 cases per 100,000 residents for the week ending Nov. 7, 2021.
ADHS officials reported 5,070 new COVID-19 cases Friday with 78 more virus-related deaths.
This brings Arizona's pandemic totals to 1,233,146 cases and 21,886 deaths.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 statewide were at 2,415 as of Thursday, Nov. 18, a dozen more than the day before.
Meanwhile, the City of Phoenix told its 14,000 employees in an email Thursday that they must be vaccinated by Jan. 18. Employees who don't comply will face discipline, including possible termination. Religious and medical exemptions may be allowed in some cases.
The city's federal contracts mean it is obligated to follow a vaccine mandate for federal contractors set by President Joe Biden's executive order, according to officials.
Almost 4.4 million Arizona residents — or 61.2% of the eligible population — have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Over 3.8 million are fully vaccinated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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