DOH urges Washingtonians to spend Thanksgiving only with household members

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, the Washington State Department of Health is urging people to only spend the holiday with people who live in their household, as COVID infections continue to spread at a fast rate. But some families are determined to still see loved ones this holiday, even if it won’t be anything like previous years.

“You have these people struggling with how can we still see family, and follow the mandates and keep everyone safe?” said Eddie Redman.

Redman works for Grand Event Rentals and has been setting up more tents than ever before and for the first time, in people’s backyards, just so they can be with a few relatives this Thanksgiving.

“People say ‘we still wanna have our family here, because otherwise grandma and grandpa are gonna be alone, but we're gonna do it so we protect them,” said Redman.

To make it safe, people are renting large tents so even just a handful of people can be properly spaced out, in a setting where fresh air is still going in and out.

Others are choosing to break tradition in terms of being together in person-but still plan to have dinner with their families. Kristin Kiehl said she and her family are doing a virtual Thanksgiving this year.

“We had thought about getting together outside or at a park but it’s too cold and rainy right now," said Kiehl.

They all live near each other, but decided this year, Kiehl said they will instead see each other over zoom.

“I don't think of it as I’m following rules, I think of it as I'm making my own decisions on what I think is safe for my family," she said.

Kiehl said of course it isn’t ideal, nowhere near it, but she’s doing what feels right and smart.

“My parents are older and they're in the higher risk category and I would not want to be the one to happen to give it to my parents and have them end up in the hospital," said Kiehl.

And when the pandemic finally ends, she knows their time together as a family will just be that much sweeter.

As we’ve gotten closer to the holiday, the department of health says the demand for COVID tests has risen. To ensure tests are available for those who have reason to believe they may be infected, DOH is asking people to hold off on getting tested if you’re just doing it so you can attend a Thanksgiving gathering. For now, they’re also asking people to not get tested if they don’t have any symptoms.

Under Governor Inslee’s new COVID-19 mandates, people are not to gather indoors with anyone outside of their household unless they quarantine for 14 days or quarantine for seven days and receive a negative COVID test no more than 48 hours prior to the gathering. A gathering outdoors permits up to five people outside of your household.