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11 Foods Doctors Won't Eat at Thanksgiving Dinner — and Why

11 Foods Doctors Won't Eat at Thanksgiving Dinner — and Why


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Sure, it's a blow-out feast and a celebration, but there's no need to be self-destructive about it

An average slice of pecan pie contains 541 calories, 33 grams of sugar, and almost no fiber.

The Thanksgiving meal is like a “Greatest Hits” album of your favorite family recipes. Thanksgiving can be your reward for all the discipline you’ve shown throughout the year.

11 Foods Doctors Won't Eat at Thanksgiving Dinner — and Why Slideshow

With that being said, there are a few dishes (some obvious and some surprising) that should be eaten in moderation, or skipped altogether. In order to determine which foods made the cut we asked doctors, whose expertise ranges from bariatric surgery to weight loss, what they wouldn’t eat at Thanksgiving dinner and why. Though answers varied, there was a general consensus that calories shouldn’t be wasted before the meal actually begins. That means saying no to appetizers, bread baskets, and dips. Nutritionists and doctors both agree that it’s best to never go to the Thanksgiving meal hungry.

Here are 11 foods that doctors wouldn’t eat at Thanksgiving dinner— and why.


Serve Up Some Extra Precautions at Your Holiday Table This Year

Public health officials urge families to keep celebrations small, avoid mixing households and open the windows.

It’s been a year of sacrifice, social distancing and skyrocketing stress. Can we at least enjoy holidays?

In terms of risk, the timing of the holiday season couldn’t be worse. The coronavirus is raging across the country, setting new daily infection records. More than 300,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and small gatherings are believed to be fueling much of the spread. While public health officials caution against family and friends gathering in each other’s homes, they know many people plan to spend the holiday together anyway.

The solution? A scaled-back holiday celebration — with open windows, fewer people and a big serving of precautions.

“You don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “But this may not be the time to have a big family gathering. That doesn’t mean no one should gather for Thanksgiving. It’s not going to be one size fits all. You’ve got to be careful. It depends on the vulnerability of the people you’re with and your need to protect them.”

Many of us feel safer gathering in our homes, rather than at a restaurant or public space, but experts say we underestimate the risk when it comes to private get-togethers. Homes are now a main source of coronavirus transmission, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases in some areas. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin found that people who carried the virus, most of whom had no symptoms, infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Health officials say they believe small home gatherings are fueling the spread of Covid-19 in part because most homes, by design, are poorly ventilated. Most office buildings, hospitals and restaurants have mechanical ventilation systems that pull outside air inside, push stale air outside and recirculate indoor air through filters. But homes typically don’t have those kinds of ventilation systems, and indoor air changes far more slowly as it leaks through small cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Many homes, in fact, are sealed up tight to make them more energy efficient.

While that may save on heating bills, it means that invisible viral particles from an infected guest or family member can build up quickly in your home or around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs. Large droplets fall to surfaces or the ground, while smaller particles, called aerosols, can linger in the air, putting everyone in the house at risk.

The World Health Organization recently said that to reduce viral spread, buildings should have ventilation that changes the total volume of air in a room at least six times an hour. Although there’s wide variation in how different spaces are ventilated, some hospitals, planes and new buildings may change the air as much as 12 times an hour. Some schools and restaurants may have air exchange rates of three to five times an hour.

By comparison, the air in a typical home changes only about every one to two hours, said Shelly Miller, professor of mechanical engineering and a ventilation expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“I’ve been concerned that people are not completely understanding how ventilation in the home is different than ventilation in commercial spaces or schools or hospitals,” said Dr. Miller. “I want people to understand that their homes are generally not ventilated. If you have friends over for dinner and someone is infectious, aerosols can build up.”

Depending on the home, weather conditions and other variables, research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate to as much as three times an hour. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heat or use space heaters as needed.

Dr. Miller also suggests turning on exhaust fans, which are typically found in bathrooms and over the stove. While those precautions won’t eliminate risk, even a few exhaust fans, combined with opened windows, can help.


Serve Up Some Extra Precautions at Your Holiday Table This Year

Public health officials urge families to keep celebrations small, avoid mixing households and open the windows.

It’s been a year of sacrifice, social distancing and skyrocketing stress. Can we at least enjoy holidays?

In terms of risk, the timing of the holiday season couldn’t be worse. The coronavirus is raging across the country, setting new daily infection records. More than 300,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and small gatherings are believed to be fueling much of the spread. While public health officials caution against family and friends gathering in each other’s homes, they know many people plan to spend the holiday together anyway.

The solution? A scaled-back holiday celebration — with open windows, fewer people and a big serving of precautions.

“You don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “But this may not be the time to have a big family gathering. That doesn’t mean no one should gather for Thanksgiving. It’s not going to be one size fits all. You’ve got to be careful. It depends on the vulnerability of the people you’re with and your need to protect them.”

Many of us feel safer gathering in our homes, rather than at a restaurant or public space, but experts say we underestimate the risk when it comes to private get-togethers. Homes are now a main source of coronavirus transmission, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases in some areas. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin found that people who carried the virus, most of whom had no symptoms, infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Health officials say they believe small home gatherings are fueling the spread of Covid-19 in part because most homes, by design, are poorly ventilated. Most office buildings, hospitals and restaurants have mechanical ventilation systems that pull outside air inside, push stale air outside and recirculate indoor air through filters. But homes typically don’t have those kinds of ventilation systems, and indoor air changes far more slowly as it leaks through small cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Many homes, in fact, are sealed up tight to make them more energy efficient.

While that may save on heating bills, it means that invisible viral particles from an infected guest or family member can build up quickly in your home or around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs. Large droplets fall to surfaces or the ground, while smaller particles, called aerosols, can linger in the air, putting everyone in the house at risk.

The World Health Organization recently said that to reduce viral spread, buildings should have ventilation that changes the total volume of air in a room at least six times an hour. Although there’s wide variation in how different spaces are ventilated, some hospitals, planes and new buildings may change the air as much as 12 times an hour. Some schools and restaurants may have air exchange rates of three to five times an hour.

By comparison, the air in a typical home changes only about every one to two hours, said Shelly Miller, professor of mechanical engineering and a ventilation expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“I’ve been concerned that people are not completely understanding how ventilation in the home is different than ventilation in commercial spaces or schools or hospitals,” said Dr. Miller. “I want people to understand that their homes are generally not ventilated. If you have friends over for dinner and someone is infectious, aerosols can build up.”

Depending on the home, weather conditions and other variables, research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate to as much as three times an hour. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heat or use space heaters as needed.

Dr. Miller also suggests turning on exhaust fans, which are typically found in bathrooms and over the stove. While those precautions won’t eliminate risk, even a few exhaust fans, combined with opened windows, can help.


Serve Up Some Extra Precautions at Your Holiday Table This Year

Public health officials urge families to keep celebrations small, avoid mixing households and open the windows.

It’s been a year of sacrifice, social distancing and skyrocketing stress. Can we at least enjoy holidays?

In terms of risk, the timing of the holiday season couldn’t be worse. The coronavirus is raging across the country, setting new daily infection records. More than 300,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and small gatherings are believed to be fueling much of the spread. While public health officials caution against family and friends gathering in each other’s homes, they know many people plan to spend the holiday together anyway.

The solution? A scaled-back holiday celebration — with open windows, fewer people and a big serving of precautions.

“You don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “But this may not be the time to have a big family gathering. That doesn’t mean no one should gather for Thanksgiving. It’s not going to be one size fits all. You’ve got to be careful. It depends on the vulnerability of the people you’re with and your need to protect them.”

Many of us feel safer gathering in our homes, rather than at a restaurant or public space, but experts say we underestimate the risk when it comes to private get-togethers. Homes are now a main source of coronavirus transmission, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases in some areas. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin found that people who carried the virus, most of whom had no symptoms, infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Health officials say they believe small home gatherings are fueling the spread of Covid-19 in part because most homes, by design, are poorly ventilated. Most office buildings, hospitals and restaurants have mechanical ventilation systems that pull outside air inside, push stale air outside and recirculate indoor air through filters. But homes typically don’t have those kinds of ventilation systems, and indoor air changes far more slowly as it leaks through small cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Many homes, in fact, are sealed up tight to make them more energy efficient.

While that may save on heating bills, it means that invisible viral particles from an infected guest or family member can build up quickly in your home or around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs. Large droplets fall to surfaces or the ground, while smaller particles, called aerosols, can linger in the air, putting everyone in the house at risk.

The World Health Organization recently said that to reduce viral spread, buildings should have ventilation that changes the total volume of air in a room at least six times an hour. Although there’s wide variation in how different spaces are ventilated, some hospitals, planes and new buildings may change the air as much as 12 times an hour. Some schools and restaurants may have air exchange rates of three to five times an hour.

By comparison, the air in a typical home changes only about every one to two hours, said Shelly Miller, professor of mechanical engineering and a ventilation expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“I’ve been concerned that people are not completely understanding how ventilation in the home is different than ventilation in commercial spaces or schools or hospitals,” said Dr. Miller. “I want people to understand that their homes are generally not ventilated. If you have friends over for dinner and someone is infectious, aerosols can build up.”

Depending on the home, weather conditions and other variables, research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate to as much as three times an hour. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heat or use space heaters as needed.

Dr. Miller also suggests turning on exhaust fans, which are typically found in bathrooms and over the stove. While those precautions won’t eliminate risk, even a few exhaust fans, combined with opened windows, can help.


Serve Up Some Extra Precautions at Your Holiday Table This Year

Public health officials urge families to keep celebrations small, avoid mixing households and open the windows.

It’s been a year of sacrifice, social distancing and skyrocketing stress. Can we at least enjoy holidays?

In terms of risk, the timing of the holiday season couldn’t be worse. The coronavirus is raging across the country, setting new daily infection records. More than 300,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and small gatherings are believed to be fueling much of the spread. While public health officials caution against family and friends gathering in each other’s homes, they know many people plan to spend the holiday together anyway.

The solution? A scaled-back holiday celebration — with open windows, fewer people and a big serving of precautions.

“You don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “But this may not be the time to have a big family gathering. That doesn’t mean no one should gather for Thanksgiving. It’s not going to be one size fits all. You’ve got to be careful. It depends on the vulnerability of the people you’re with and your need to protect them.”

Many of us feel safer gathering in our homes, rather than at a restaurant or public space, but experts say we underestimate the risk when it comes to private get-togethers. Homes are now a main source of coronavirus transmission, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases in some areas. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin found that people who carried the virus, most of whom had no symptoms, infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Health officials say they believe small home gatherings are fueling the spread of Covid-19 in part because most homes, by design, are poorly ventilated. Most office buildings, hospitals and restaurants have mechanical ventilation systems that pull outside air inside, push stale air outside and recirculate indoor air through filters. But homes typically don’t have those kinds of ventilation systems, and indoor air changes far more slowly as it leaks through small cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Many homes, in fact, are sealed up tight to make them more energy efficient.

While that may save on heating bills, it means that invisible viral particles from an infected guest or family member can build up quickly in your home or around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs. Large droplets fall to surfaces or the ground, while smaller particles, called aerosols, can linger in the air, putting everyone in the house at risk.

The World Health Organization recently said that to reduce viral spread, buildings should have ventilation that changes the total volume of air in a room at least six times an hour. Although there’s wide variation in how different spaces are ventilated, some hospitals, planes and new buildings may change the air as much as 12 times an hour. Some schools and restaurants may have air exchange rates of three to five times an hour.

By comparison, the air in a typical home changes only about every one to two hours, said Shelly Miller, professor of mechanical engineering and a ventilation expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“I’ve been concerned that people are not completely understanding how ventilation in the home is different than ventilation in commercial spaces or schools or hospitals,” said Dr. Miller. “I want people to understand that their homes are generally not ventilated. If you have friends over for dinner and someone is infectious, aerosols can build up.”

Depending on the home, weather conditions and other variables, research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate to as much as three times an hour. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heat or use space heaters as needed.

Dr. Miller also suggests turning on exhaust fans, which are typically found in bathrooms and over the stove. While those precautions won’t eliminate risk, even a few exhaust fans, combined with opened windows, can help.


Serve Up Some Extra Precautions at Your Holiday Table This Year

Public health officials urge families to keep celebrations small, avoid mixing households and open the windows.

It’s been a year of sacrifice, social distancing and skyrocketing stress. Can we at least enjoy holidays?

In terms of risk, the timing of the holiday season couldn’t be worse. The coronavirus is raging across the country, setting new daily infection records. More than 300,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and small gatherings are believed to be fueling much of the spread. While public health officials caution against family and friends gathering in each other’s homes, they know many people plan to spend the holiday together anyway.

The solution? A scaled-back holiday celebration — with open windows, fewer people and a big serving of precautions.

“You don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “But this may not be the time to have a big family gathering. That doesn’t mean no one should gather for Thanksgiving. It’s not going to be one size fits all. You’ve got to be careful. It depends on the vulnerability of the people you’re with and your need to protect them.”

Many of us feel safer gathering in our homes, rather than at a restaurant or public space, but experts say we underestimate the risk when it comes to private get-togethers. Homes are now a main source of coronavirus transmission, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases in some areas. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin found that people who carried the virus, most of whom had no symptoms, infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Health officials say they believe small home gatherings are fueling the spread of Covid-19 in part because most homes, by design, are poorly ventilated. Most office buildings, hospitals and restaurants have mechanical ventilation systems that pull outside air inside, push stale air outside and recirculate indoor air through filters. But homes typically don’t have those kinds of ventilation systems, and indoor air changes far more slowly as it leaks through small cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Many homes, in fact, are sealed up tight to make them more energy efficient.

While that may save on heating bills, it means that invisible viral particles from an infected guest or family member can build up quickly in your home or around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs. Large droplets fall to surfaces or the ground, while smaller particles, called aerosols, can linger in the air, putting everyone in the house at risk.

The World Health Organization recently said that to reduce viral spread, buildings should have ventilation that changes the total volume of air in a room at least six times an hour. Although there’s wide variation in how different spaces are ventilated, some hospitals, planes and new buildings may change the air as much as 12 times an hour. Some schools and restaurants may have air exchange rates of three to five times an hour.

By comparison, the air in a typical home changes only about every one to two hours, said Shelly Miller, professor of mechanical engineering and a ventilation expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“I’ve been concerned that people are not completely understanding how ventilation in the home is different than ventilation in commercial spaces or schools or hospitals,” said Dr. Miller. “I want people to understand that their homes are generally not ventilated. If you have friends over for dinner and someone is infectious, aerosols can build up.”

Depending on the home, weather conditions and other variables, research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate to as much as three times an hour. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heat or use space heaters as needed.

Dr. Miller also suggests turning on exhaust fans, which are typically found in bathrooms and over the stove. While those precautions won’t eliminate risk, even a few exhaust fans, combined with opened windows, can help.


Serve Up Some Extra Precautions at Your Holiday Table This Year

Public health officials urge families to keep celebrations small, avoid mixing households and open the windows.

It’s been a year of sacrifice, social distancing and skyrocketing stress. Can we at least enjoy holidays?

In terms of risk, the timing of the holiday season couldn’t be worse. The coronavirus is raging across the country, setting new daily infection records. More than 300,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and small gatherings are believed to be fueling much of the spread. While public health officials caution against family and friends gathering in each other’s homes, they know many people plan to spend the holiday together anyway.

The solution? A scaled-back holiday celebration — with open windows, fewer people and a big serving of precautions.

“You don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “But this may not be the time to have a big family gathering. That doesn’t mean no one should gather for Thanksgiving. It’s not going to be one size fits all. You’ve got to be careful. It depends on the vulnerability of the people you’re with and your need to protect them.”

Many of us feel safer gathering in our homes, rather than at a restaurant or public space, but experts say we underestimate the risk when it comes to private get-togethers. Homes are now a main source of coronavirus transmission, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases in some areas. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin found that people who carried the virus, most of whom had no symptoms, infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Health officials say they believe small home gatherings are fueling the spread of Covid-19 in part because most homes, by design, are poorly ventilated. Most office buildings, hospitals and restaurants have mechanical ventilation systems that pull outside air inside, push stale air outside and recirculate indoor air through filters. But homes typically don’t have those kinds of ventilation systems, and indoor air changes far more slowly as it leaks through small cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Many homes, in fact, are sealed up tight to make them more energy efficient.

While that may save on heating bills, it means that invisible viral particles from an infected guest or family member can build up quickly in your home or around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs. Large droplets fall to surfaces or the ground, while smaller particles, called aerosols, can linger in the air, putting everyone in the house at risk.

The World Health Organization recently said that to reduce viral spread, buildings should have ventilation that changes the total volume of air in a room at least six times an hour. Although there’s wide variation in how different spaces are ventilated, some hospitals, planes and new buildings may change the air as much as 12 times an hour. Some schools and restaurants may have air exchange rates of three to five times an hour.

By comparison, the air in a typical home changes only about every one to two hours, said Shelly Miller, professor of mechanical engineering and a ventilation expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“I’ve been concerned that people are not completely understanding how ventilation in the home is different than ventilation in commercial spaces or schools or hospitals,” said Dr. Miller. “I want people to understand that their homes are generally not ventilated. If you have friends over for dinner and someone is infectious, aerosols can build up.”

Depending on the home, weather conditions and other variables, research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate to as much as three times an hour. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heat or use space heaters as needed.

Dr. Miller also suggests turning on exhaust fans, which are typically found in bathrooms and over the stove. While those precautions won’t eliminate risk, even a few exhaust fans, combined with opened windows, can help.


Serve Up Some Extra Precautions at Your Holiday Table This Year

Public health officials urge families to keep celebrations small, avoid mixing households and open the windows.

It’s been a year of sacrifice, social distancing and skyrocketing stress. Can we at least enjoy holidays?

In terms of risk, the timing of the holiday season couldn’t be worse. The coronavirus is raging across the country, setting new daily infection records. More than 300,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and small gatherings are believed to be fueling much of the spread. While public health officials caution against family and friends gathering in each other’s homes, they know many people plan to spend the holiday together anyway.

The solution? A scaled-back holiday celebration — with open windows, fewer people and a big serving of precautions.

“You don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “But this may not be the time to have a big family gathering. That doesn’t mean no one should gather for Thanksgiving. It’s not going to be one size fits all. You’ve got to be careful. It depends on the vulnerability of the people you’re with and your need to protect them.”

Many of us feel safer gathering in our homes, rather than at a restaurant or public space, but experts say we underestimate the risk when it comes to private get-togethers. Homes are now a main source of coronavirus transmission, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases in some areas. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin found that people who carried the virus, most of whom had no symptoms, infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Health officials say they believe small home gatherings are fueling the spread of Covid-19 in part because most homes, by design, are poorly ventilated. Most office buildings, hospitals and restaurants have mechanical ventilation systems that pull outside air inside, push stale air outside and recirculate indoor air through filters. But homes typically don’t have those kinds of ventilation systems, and indoor air changes far more slowly as it leaks through small cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Many homes, in fact, are sealed up tight to make them more energy efficient.

While that may save on heating bills, it means that invisible viral particles from an infected guest or family member can build up quickly in your home or around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs. Large droplets fall to surfaces or the ground, while smaller particles, called aerosols, can linger in the air, putting everyone in the house at risk.

The World Health Organization recently said that to reduce viral spread, buildings should have ventilation that changes the total volume of air in a room at least six times an hour. Although there’s wide variation in how different spaces are ventilated, some hospitals, planes and new buildings may change the air as much as 12 times an hour. Some schools and restaurants may have air exchange rates of three to five times an hour.

By comparison, the air in a typical home changes only about every one to two hours, said Shelly Miller, professor of mechanical engineering and a ventilation expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“I’ve been concerned that people are not completely understanding how ventilation in the home is different than ventilation in commercial spaces or schools or hospitals,” said Dr. Miller. “I want people to understand that their homes are generally not ventilated. If you have friends over for dinner and someone is infectious, aerosols can build up.”

Depending on the home, weather conditions and other variables, research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate to as much as three times an hour. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heat or use space heaters as needed.

Dr. Miller also suggests turning on exhaust fans, which are typically found in bathrooms and over the stove. While those precautions won’t eliminate risk, even a few exhaust fans, combined with opened windows, can help.


Serve Up Some Extra Precautions at Your Holiday Table This Year

Public health officials urge families to keep celebrations small, avoid mixing households and open the windows.

It’s been a year of sacrifice, social distancing and skyrocketing stress. Can we at least enjoy holidays?

In terms of risk, the timing of the holiday season couldn’t be worse. The coronavirus is raging across the country, setting new daily infection records. More than 300,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and small gatherings are believed to be fueling much of the spread. While public health officials caution against family and friends gathering in each other’s homes, they know many people plan to spend the holiday together anyway.

The solution? A scaled-back holiday celebration — with open windows, fewer people and a big serving of precautions.

“You don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “But this may not be the time to have a big family gathering. That doesn’t mean no one should gather for Thanksgiving. It’s not going to be one size fits all. You’ve got to be careful. It depends on the vulnerability of the people you’re with and your need to protect them.”

Many of us feel safer gathering in our homes, rather than at a restaurant or public space, but experts say we underestimate the risk when it comes to private get-togethers. Homes are now a main source of coronavirus transmission, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases in some areas. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin found that people who carried the virus, most of whom had no symptoms, infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Health officials say they believe small home gatherings are fueling the spread of Covid-19 in part because most homes, by design, are poorly ventilated. Most office buildings, hospitals and restaurants have mechanical ventilation systems that pull outside air inside, push stale air outside and recirculate indoor air through filters. But homes typically don’t have those kinds of ventilation systems, and indoor air changes far more slowly as it leaks through small cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Many homes, in fact, are sealed up tight to make them more energy efficient.

While that may save on heating bills, it means that invisible viral particles from an infected guest or family member can build up quickly in your home or around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs. Large droplets fall to surfaces or the ground, while smaller particles, called aerosols, can linger in the air, putting everyone in the house at risk.

The World Health Organization recently said that to reduce viral spread, buildings should have ventilation that changes the total volume of air in a room at least six times an hour. Although there’s wide variation in how different spaces are ventilated, some hospitals, planes and new buildings may change the air as much as 12 times an hour. Some schools and restaurants may have air exchange rates of three to five times an hour.

By comparison, the air in a typical home changes only about every one to two hours, said Shelly Miller, professor of mechanical engineering and a ventilation expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“I’ve been concerned that people are not completely understanding how ventilation in the home is different than ventilation in commercial spaces or schools or hospitals,” said Dr. Miller. “I want people to understand that their homes are generally not ventilated. If you have friends over for dinner and someone is infectious, aerosols can build up.”

Depending on the home, weather conditions and other variables, research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate to as much as three times an hour. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heat or use space heaters as needed.

Dr. Miller also suggests turning on exhaust fans, which are typically found in bathrooms and over the stove. While those precautions won’t eliminate risk, even a few exhaust fans, combined with opened windows, can help.


Serve Up Some Extra Precautions at Your Holiday Table This Year

Public health officials urge families to keep celebrations small, avoid mixing households and open the windows.

It’s been a year of sacrifice, social distancing and skyrocketing stress. Can we at least enjoy holidays?

In terms of risk, the timing of the holiday season couldn’t be worse. The coronavirus is raging across the country, setting new daily infection records. More than 300,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and small gatherings are believed to be fueling much of the spread. While public health officials caution against family and friends gathering in each other’s homes, they know many people plan to spend the holiday together anyway.

The solution? A scaled-back holiday celebration — with open windows, fewer people and a big serving of precautions.

“You don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “But this may not be the time to have a big family gathering. That doesn’t mean no one should gather for Thanksgiving. It’s not going to be one size fits all. You’ve got to be careful. It depends on the vulnerability of the people you’re with and your need to protect them.”

Many of us feel safer gathering in our homes, rather than at a restaurant or public space, but experts say we underestimate the risk when it comes to private get-togethers. Homes are now a main source of coronavirus transmission, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases in some areas. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin found that people who carried the virus, most of whom had no symptoms, infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Health officials say they believe small home gatherings are fueling the spread of Covid-19 in part because most homes, by design, are poorly ventilated. Most office buildings, hospitals and restaurants have mechanical ventilation systems that pull outside air inside, push stale air outside and recirculate indoor air through filters. But homes typically don’t have those kinds of ventilation systems, and indoor air changes far more slowly as it leaks through small cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Many homes, in fact, are sealed up tight to make them more energy efficient.

While that may save on heating bills, it means that invisible viral particles from an infected guest or family member can build up quickly in your home or around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs. Large droplets fall to surfaces or the ground, while smaller particles, called aerosols, can linger in the air, putting everyone in the house at risk.

The World Health Organization recently said that to reduce viral spread, buildings should have ventilation that changes the total volume of air in a room at least six times an hour. Although there’s wide variation in how different spaces are ventilated, some hospitals, planes and new buildings may change the air as much as 12 times an hour. Some schools and restaurants may have air exchange rates of three to five times an hour.

By comparison, the air in a typical home changes only about every one to two hours, said Shelly Miller, professor of mechanical engineering and a ventilation expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“I’ve been concerned that people are not completely understanding how ventilation in the home is different than ventilation in commercial spaces or schools or hospitals,” said Dr. Miller. “I want people to understand that their homes are generally not ventilated. If you have friends over for dinner and someone is infectious, aerosols can build up.”

Depending on the home, weather conditions and other variables, research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate to as much as three times an hour. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heat or use space heaters as needed.

Dr. Miller also suggests turning on exhaust fans, which are typically found in bathrooms and over the stove. While those precautions won’t eliminate risk, even a few exhaust fans, combined with opened windows, can help.


Serve Up Some Extra Precautions at Your Holiday Table This Year

Public health officials urge families to keep celebrations small, avoid mixing households and open the windows.

It’s been a year of sacrifice, social distancing and skyrocketing stress. Can we at least enjoy holidays?

In terms of risk, the timing of the holiday season couldn’t be worse. The coronavirus is raging across the country, setting new daily infection records. More than 300,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and small gatherings are believed to be fueling much of the spread. While public health officials caution against family and friends gathering in each other’s homes, they know many people plan to spend the holiday together anyway.

The solution? A scaled-back holiday celebration — with open windows, fewer people and a big serving of precautions.

“You don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “But this may not be the time to have a big family gathering. That doesn’t mean no one should gather for Thanksgiving. It’s not going to be one size fits all. You’ve got to be careful. It depends on the vulnerability of the people you’re with and your need to protect them.”

Many of us feel safer gathering in our homes, rather than at a restaurant or public space, but experts say we underestimate the risk when it comes to private get-togethers. Homes are now a main source of coronavirus transmission, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases in some areas. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin found that people who carried the virus, most of whom had no symptoms, infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Health officials say they believe small home gatherings are fueling the spread of Covid-19 in part because most homes, by design, are poorly ventilated. Most office buildings, hospitals and restaurants have mechanical ventilation systems that pull outside air inside, push stale air outside and recirculate indoor air through filters. But homes typically don’t have those kinds of ventilation systems, and indoor air changes far more slowly as it leaks through small cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Many homes, in fact, are sealed up tight to make them more energy efficient.

While that may save on heating bills, it means that invisible viral particles from an infected guest or family member can build up quickly in your home or around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs. Large droplets fall to surfaces or the ground, while smaller particles, called aerosols, can linger in the air, putting everyone in the house at risk.

The World Health Organization recently said that to reduce viral spread, buildings should have ventilation that changes the total volume of air in a room at least six times an hour. Although there’s wide variation in how different spaces are ventilated, some hospitals, planes and new buildings may change the air as much as 12 times an hour. Some schools and restaurants may have air exchange rates of three to five times an hour.

By comparison, the air in a typical home changes only about every one to two hours, said Shelly Miller, professor of mechanical engineering and a ventilation expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“I’ve been concerned that people are not completely understanding how ventilation in the home is different than ventilation in commercial spaces or schools or hospitals,” said Dr. Miller. “I want people to understand that their homes are generally not ventilated. If you have friends over for dinner and someone is infectious, aerosols can build up.”

Depending on the home, weather conditions and other variables, research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate to as much as three times an hour. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heat or use space heaters as needed.

Dr. Miller also suggests turning on exhaust fans, which are typically found in bathrooms and over the stove. While those precautions won’t eliminate risk, even a few exhaust fans, combined with opened windows, can help.



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