COVID-19 complicates Thanksgiving, as families decide what to do

Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 19:45:01-05

MILWAUKEE — With coronavirus cases rising in Wisconsin, and across the country, health experts say families need to start having some tough conversations about Thanksgiving, and even Christmas.

The CDC has warned that gatherings of the upcoming holidays could worsen the surge in cases, and is advising people to stay isolated to your own household.

But, in many families and social circles, not everyone agrees on how to handle the threat of coronavirus, or even the seriousness of it. As we embark on a season known for coming together, many are up against some difficult decisions. Discussing those decisions with family can be challenging.

Many people are grappling with whether to host family or friends they haven’t seen in months or if they should travel to visit family who asked them to attend Thanksgiving gatherings, according to Shanda Wells, behavioral health specialist, UW Health.

“The emotions connected to these situations are very difficult to manage because, on one hand, we love our families and want to see them, but on the other, we want to be safe and protect everyone involved,” Wells said.

Additionally, some family members may not have the same views on pandemic safety recommendations, like quarantining prior to visiting and mask use, and this can add another layer of complexity to managing family conversations, she said.

Wells does have advice for those facing these difficult conversations:

· Assume family and friends have the best intentions

· Don’t try to convince the other person. Instead, try to genuinely hear them out

· Decide ahead of time what kind of boundaries you are willing to set

· Engage family and friends, but also acknowledge your own boundaries. For example: “I care about you and your health as well as the health of my family. I need your help to keep all of us safe.”

· Acknowledge that everyone’s tolerance for risk is different

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip

Coronavirus in Wisconsin

More data on Wisconsin's vaccination progress here.

Find a vaccination site here.

Check out county-by-county coronavirus case numbers here.

More information: COVID-19 on the Wisconsin DHS website

Latest news and headlines here.