Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are encouraging all Rhode Islanders to make health a part of their holiday this Thanksgiving.
"I'd like to wish all Rhode Islanders and their families a happy and healthy Thanksgiving," said Governor Dan McKee. "I'm so grateful that due to vaccinations and mitigation strategies that it's safer this year to gather with family and friends. That doesn't mean we can let our guards down. That might even include helping a loved one sign up for a booster shot during dessert. Please do what you need to keep one another healthy and safe this Thursday and throughout the holiday season."
"Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to gather with friends and family, and to reflect on the blessings in our lives. This year, we're asking everyone to take a few additional steps to gather as safely as possible," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The three Vs – vaccinate, ventilate, and visit safety – will be critical, as will handling and preparing food properly. Making health a part of your holiday can help keep you and your loved ones safe."
COVID-19: Practice the Three Vs
- Vaccinate – The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving safely is to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and to ensure that everyone around you (who is eligible) is also vaccinated. Everyone 5 years of age and older should get vaccinated, and all people 18 and older are now also eligible for booster doses. Booster doses are especially important for older adults and people with underlying health conditions. For more information, see c19vaccineRI.org.
- Ventilate – Having good ventilation is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy on Thanksgiving. Bringing fresh, outdoor air into your home helps keep virus particles from accumulating inside. Having multiple windows open allows more fresh air to move inside. Even having windows cracked open slightly (roughly two inches) can help.
- Visit Safely – If you are feeling any symptoms of COVID-19, you should not see people outside your household on Thanksgiving. If you are planning to host and someone in your household is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, you should not host this year. Testing is available at sites throughout Rhode Island. For more information, see: covid.ri.gov/testing.
Food safety: Handle and prepare your food properly.
- Wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food. This is especially important if you have been handling raw meat.
- Thoroughly wash counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey and other raw meats if possible.
- Washing your turkey before cooking is not recommended. Poultry juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops.
- Raw poultry can contaminate anything it touches with harmful bacteria. Follow the four steps to food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill—to prevent the spread of bacteria to your food, family, and friends.
- Thaw your turkey safely. Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave. Avoid thawing foods on the counter. A turkey must thaw at a safe temperature to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly.
- Cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Turkey breasts, whole turkeys, and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles, and sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs.
- Debone the turkey as soon as possible and refrigerate leftovers at 40°F or colder as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation. Slice or divide big cuts of meat, such as a roast turkey, into small quantities for refrigeration so they can cool quickly. Reheat all leftovers to at least 165°F before serving.
- Cooking stuffing separately from the turkey in a casserole dish makes it easy to be sure it is thoroughly cooked. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, put the stuffing in the turkey just before cooking. With either cooking method, use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing's center reaches 165°F. Learn more about how to prepare stuffing safely.
- If you plan to bake, do not eat raw dough or batter, and use pasteurized eggs in dishes that call for raw eggs.
Additional health tips
- If you are going to be drinking, consume alcohol in moderation.
- If you are going to be drinking and traveling, make sure that you have a designated driver.
- Put down your phones, get away from the television, and do something interactive with family and friends. Good examples are playing a board game, playing cards, or taking a walk.
- Focus conversation on the positive aspects of your life and what makes you thankful.