How the coronavirus pandemic may change the way we celebrate Thanksgiving

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thanksgiving is six weeks away, and the COVID-19 pandemic may cast a shadow on how people celebrate this year.

Beth Breeding, with the National Turkey Federation, says the COVID-19 pandemic caused some drop in demand for turkey this year.

“Due to a lot of restaurants and other food service places not being opened or having reduced operations,” Breeding said. “But as far as the holidays go, we’re very optimistic that we’ll continue to have a strong holiday season.”

There are still a lot of unknowns about whether turkey sales will soar this year and if consumers decide to limit the size of their gatherings out of concern for the virus.

“But that doesn’t necessarily mean the size of the turkey will change,” Breeding said. “I think we’ll certainly see a demand for smaller turkeys. In fact grocery stores are already seeing that.”

Healthcare professionals stress this isn’t the time to forget protocols, something that may be even more difficult when grandchildren haven’t seen grandparents in a long time.

“You have, for example, college students coming home. They may have been exposed, and we know the disease has run rampant through a lot of college campuses,” said Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, infectious disease specialist with Baptist Memorial Hospital. “So, you’ll be injecting people into the equation that are a relatively high risk honestly.”

Threlkeld suggests having dinner outside if the weather permits, observing social distance of six feet, wearing face masks and routinely and vigorously washing hands.

“We hope that a vaccine is right around the corner, maybe even by the end of the year, some the earliest ones,” Threlkeld said. “So, if we can just hold on for one more sort of ‘season’ of this.”

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