Health department warns: ‘Thanksgiving leftovers won’t taste good if you’re on a ventilator’

A Utah health department issued a grim warning ahead of Thanksgiving, urging people to avoid in-person gatherings to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus as positive COVID-19 cases surge across the United States.

“Thanksgiving leftovers won’t taste as good if you’re on a ventilator. In fact, if you’ve got COVID-19, they probably won’t taste like anything at all,” one of the posts from the Salt Lake County Health Department read.

The health department released a series of posts ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday with attention-grabbing pictures and captions.

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One picture showed a dinner guest at the head of a table who had been infected for nine days. “No symptoms and feeling great!” the post read. “Has infected 24 people so far.”

“Have a virtual Thanksgiving to help make sure you don't have to go to any virtual funerals,” another post read.

The county's health department, meanwhile, released a list of high-risk activities during the holiday, including going shopping, large crowds, attending crowded parades and attending large indoor gatherings with people outside your household.

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“Oh—did we remind you of the COVID-19 pandemic with our Thanksgiving posts?” one of the department’s social media posts read. “While we've got your attention, help put an end to COVID-19 transmission by covering your face holes properly and social distancing whenever you leave the house.”

The series of social media posts came as governors, mayors and other officials announced new restrictions and closures as coronavirus cases climb to record levels in several states. In the United States, cases had topped 12 million with over 260,000 deaths as of Nov. 25.

Last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, told CBS Evening News that gatherings with relatives outside of one’s own household present risks of COVID-19 spread.

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“You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering unless you're pretty certain that the people that you're dealing with are not infected," Fauci told the network. "My Thanksgiving is going to look very different this year."

“In the strongest possible terms, we urge you to celebrate responsibly,” the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association said in the letter to the U.S. public dated Nov. 19.

In addition, President-elect Joe Biden asked Americans to maintain public safety measures over the holidays in a public address on Wednesday.

Biden said that while the country awaits the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, there are still “months of this battle ahead of us.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans to limit Thanksgiving celebrations to the people who already live in their household, and to avoid travel.

The CDC encourages having a virtual dinner, rather than congregating in person. The Salt Lake County Health Department urged the same.

“Celebrate Thanksgiving only with your household to help ensure loved ones are around to enjoy reunions in the future,” the Salt Lake County Health Department wrote. “If you care, you’ll visit virtually.”

This story was reported from Los Angeles.