Ahead of Thanksgiving, Travis County health officials urge caution

Local health leaders are urging caution ahead of Thanksgiving. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Local health leaders are urging caution ahead of Thanksgiving. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Local health leaders are urging caution ahead of Thanksgiving. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Travis County officials repeated warnings about Thanksgiving gatherings at a meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court on Nov. 24, cautioning that events involving people from multiple households come with high coronavirus transmission risks. Dr. Jason Pickett, alternate health authority for the city of Austin and the county, urged those who went ahead with multi-household gatherings to take precautions such as celebrating outside and wearing masks.

“We recommend that you don’t gather with people you do not live with. If you decide to do so, there are steps you can take to reduce that risk,” Pickett said. “We’ve seen families that were devastated by gatherings after Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and we don’t want to see that same thing happen after Thanksgiving as well.”

Pickett acknowledged that the holiday represented a “desire to get together” during a year in which social isolation has placed a burden on mental health, but urged vigilance.

“We all crave that togetherness, especially at a time that is so unprecedented and has been so stressful on everybody,” Pickett said. “Understand that there are some activities that are higher risk, and gathering indoors in large groups without masks is about the highest risk thing that you can do.”

Following the meeting, the city and county announced through a news release their intention to send a mass alert through the Warn Central Texas emergency alert system to spread the word about the dangers of COVID-19 transmission ahead of Thanksgiving.

Holiday warnings from APH and other officials—including Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown—come alongside an upswing in coronavirus cases and hospital admissions in the area. As of Nov. 14, Travis County was averaging 284 new cases per day and 35 daily admissions of people sick with COVID-19. APH announced the county had advanced to Stage 4 coronavirus risk on Nov. 19.

APH leaders are pushing for increased caution following Thanksgiving as well. Pickett said schools were encouraged to operate virtually during the week after the holiday or to at least reduce in-person athletic activities—the biggest opportunities for transmission in schools.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


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