The Wilkes County Health Department issued a statement Wednesday with advice on COVID-19-related precautions for the Thanksgiving holiday.

They include avoiding gatherings with people from outside immediate households, especially those indoors where people may not wear face coverings and may not practice social distancing.

“We are at a very challenging time in the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that Thanksgiving is traditionally a time where we gather, but it is just not safe to do so this year,” said Wilkes County Health Director Rachel Willard.

“This is a critical moment for Wilkes County, and taking these precautions is necessary. This is not about living in fear, but recognizing and acknowledging the real threat that COVID-19 poses, especially right now,” added Willard.

“While I discourage gathering with others, I understand sometimes it is necessary. If you have to gather with others, I ask that you take the following steps to ensure the health and safety for you and our community: keep it small, keep it outdoors, keep mask on at all times, and go get tested ahead of time.”

Willard said testing is widely available throughout the county. Call the health department at 336-651-7449 or a local provider to schedule a test.

The health department also suggested preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services recently updated its guidance for the Thanksgiving holiday.

DHHS stated, “The safest way to celebrate the holidays is to stay at home and only celebrate with the people you live with. Gathering with family or friends who do not live with you increases the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 as well as the flu.

“If you are with people you do not live with, practice the 3 Ws: Wear a face covering, wait 6 feet apart, and wash hands well. The 3 Ws are even more important if you are getting together with someone at high risk of complications with COVID-19.

“Keep in mind the governor’s executive order limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people or fewer, and wearing a face covering.”

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