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DES MOINES, Iowa — Thanksgiving Day is less than two weeks away and Iowa is seeing its worst COVID-19 numbers since the pandemic began. A local infectious disease specialist has some recommendations as folks plan to gather for the holidays.

“For Thanksgiving we usually have family over, kids, grandkids, and their dogs, but because of COVID this year, that’s up in the air,” Norwalk resident Barry Leporte said.

If your Thanksgiving plans are also up in the air, local infectious disease specialist Dr. Megan Srinivas said, “Don’t gather. Honestly, gathering right now is just extremely dangerous. We’re seeing our numbers increasing at a trajectory that we’ve never seen before.”

Dr. Srinivas said these gatherings are only going to perpetuate the spread, especially when people headed home haven’t been able to self-isolate.

“We do have grandkids coming home from college and we think … watch it … because we don’t know what they’ve been exposed to,” Leporte said.

But if you still insist on gathering, Dr. Srinivas recommends, “Once you’re in an indoor confined space together, you’re essentially completely exposed to one another. But if you are in that space, make sure that you are trying to maintain barriers or at least invisible barriers as much as possible.”

One Des Moines family has planned ahead and is having their Thanksgiving in a large warehouse.

“I think everybody feels a little better with that, that they don’t have to sit crowded into a table, because that’s always a challenge to get everybody around the table,” Des Moines resident Chuck Haas said.

Speaking of the table, Dr. Srinivas said to take a break from sharing the traditional turkey this year.

“What would be safer is not having a common buffet. So for instance, everybody brings their own food, and everybody eats their own food to ensure that there’s no cross contamination between food or serving spoons, etc.,” Dr. Srinivas said.

While these are some safer options for celebrating together, Dr. Srinivas still said they aren’t worth the risk.

“At a time when gathering could mean that it might be your last gathering, this is not when we want to test it. I would rather skip this year with my family to make sure I have 20 more,” Dr. Srinivas said.

Click on this link to see recommendations from the CDC for Thanksgiving gatherings.