Amid concerns Thanksgiving gatherings could lead to spiraling coronavirus cases, many are wondering what factors to weigh when deciding whether to participate or not.
Is it the number of people? Their relationship to you? Their age or underlying conditions? Experts weigh in on the most important factors to keep in mind as people navigate the pandemic during the holiday season.
Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of the infectious disease division at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said the risk is difficult to quantify.
“I think the number is not so much magic as what it is the people who are going to be coming together have been doing," Kuritzkes said.
Even for those who are keeping Thanksgiving gatherings to under 10 people, the biggest risk factor to weigh is their behavior, according to Kuritzkes. The risk is lower if people in the group have been adhering to coronavirus safety protocols, including social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding crowds.
An online tool developed by Georgia Tech shows the risk level of attending an event given the event size and location on a color-coded map. But Kuritzkes said even with technology, its difficult to determine risk without knowing behavior.
“You have to understand - it's not just a probability," Kuritzkes said. "It's down to individual behavior, so if you had 10 people, none of whom have been out of their homes without their masks and were not in contact with other people, then the probability is really low. But if you have 10 people, all whom have been out partying in the last week, that's going to be a much higher risk.”
Opening windows and trying to create plenty of space between people can help prevent transmission, according to the experts. Avoid finger foods or communal bowls like dips.