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Health experts practicing what they preach, avoiding large gatherings for Thanksgiving

Posted at 3:05 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 17:12:45-05

Health experts aren't just asking everyone to have a scaled back Thanksgiving. They're doing it themselves.

“Last year and the year before, we had between 20 and 30 people at our Thanksgiving table. It's absolutely my hands down favorite holiday," said Dr. Richard Besser, a former CDC director and the current CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "This year, they're going to be three of us. There's me, my wife and one of our sons.”

Besser says he won’t be seeing his parents in person. They're in their 90s.

The doctor says Thanksgiving is different than holidays over the summer or Halloween, because there is already stress on health care systems.

“But just thinking about all of the people who will have other health care problems, people with diabetes and heart disease, someone who has chest pain and can't get into the hospital, people who may have cancer and aren't getting treated or screened,” he said.

Besser says Americans have to do all they can to push through these next few months until there’s a vaccine around.

“Now, I'm sorry. I know a lot of people would like to get together. But remember, we really truly are talking now about being in a final stretch towards a vaccine,” said Besser.

Communicable diseases expert and college professor Jill Roberts, her oncologist husband and daughter will be the only ones in their home on Thanksgiving, as well.

They've been playing it safe this entire time, so Roberts’ husband doesn't put any of his cancer patients at risk.

“I'm definitely concerned about Thanksgiving. I want people to, you know, be aware that it's a risk, protect the people who are the most vulnerable,” said Roberts.

Experts have mentioned this before but it's worth repeating. If you are having others over or going somewhere where you don't live, the fewer people the better. Eat outside or open the windows in the house. Wear a mask and social distance as much as possible.