If you’re planning a large Thanksgiving gathering with family and friends this year, think twice!

That’s because health officials are warning against such gatherings this year, and they are imploring the public to take important safety precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones against the coronavirus, which continues to pose a serious health threat in California and across the nation.

As COVID-19 continues to impact the country, families may be tempted to let their guard down as they gather to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast and interact closely with one another. However, underestimating the risks posed by this virus would be a serious mistake, because the coronavirus still poses a significant threat to our communities’ health.

“There are some important steps we can take to protect our health while still celebrating this beloved American tradition with our families and friends,” says Dr. Umber Chohan, infectious diseases specialist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “However, going about it as if there’s no need for concern is not a wise decision, and it could create a serious health risk to yourself and your loved ones!”

If you plan to host a dinner to feast on turkey and trimmings, Dr. Chohan recommends significantly limiting the number of people present due to the ongoing problem with COVID. In general, the lowest risk for contracting or spreading the highly infectious virus is simply by celebrating Thanksgiving in your own home with members of your household and/or celebrating virtually with extended family, she notes.

“We advise everyone to skip any big Thanksgiving plans this year,” Dr. Chohan says. “Also, whenever possible, it’s really important to take extra additional precautions and following good hygiene practices.”

“We all want to enjoy our families and friends during this wonderful holiday,” she notes. “We can do that. However, it should be done in a way that’s both enjoyable and safe by taking precautions that better protect our health – and the health of our loved ones.”