The holiday season is a treasured time of year with Thanksgiving as the official kickoff.
Traditional holiday activities and indoor celebrations bring friends, families, and neighbors together to enjoy each other’s company and share in home-cooked meals around the kitchen and dinner tables.
This year’s holiday season will be a struggle for many as COVID-19 has officially crashed traditional activities.
Over the last few weeks, New Jersey has recorded increasingly high numbers of COVID -19 cases and hospitalization across the state.
The continued spike in COVID-19 numbers clearly signals the second wave of COVID-19 has arrived in New Jersey and is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
As the holidays near, government and public health officials urge families to choose safer ways to celebrate.
Traditional activities carry a high risk for spreading both COVID-19 and seasonal flu germs.
You must consider your individual and family’s risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 during in-person gatherings.
Travelling to see family or having out of state visitors is dangerous to your health and your family’s health.
Holiday gatherings should only include immediate members of your household (people you live with) as long as these members are consistently taking precautions to lower their risk of getting or spreading COVID19.
With community spread being so high, there is a very good chance that someone at your gathering will unknowingly pass coronavirus to the entire group.
“The holidays are an exciting time of year, but this year there’s an increased risk of severe illness,” says Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Department of Emergency Medicine.
“Holiday gatherings can invite unwanted guests which can cause members to leave the table with more than full bellies.
Be careful with food preparation as always, but also remember the guidelines to minimize the risk of COVID and the flu.”
As family chefs prepare their Thanksgiving feast, they must remember to safely handle foods to prevent contamination while preparing, cooking, serving, and storing food.
There are many germs (bacteria, viruses, parasites) lurking in kitchens that can spoil a holiday meal and cause severe illness in those who eat it the contaminated food.
In New Jersey, indoor Thanksgiving gatherings are limited to 10 people this year. Consider decreasing the amount of food made to prevent having leftovers spoil.
Getting sick from eating contaminated food is quite common. Although anyone is susceptible to food poisoning, it is important to remember that the effects may be more serious for certain groups; young children, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems.
The effects of food poisoning are not always immediate and can range from mild to severe.
Food poisoning is preventable.
Follow these four simple steps: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill
Food poisoning can happen just a few hours after consuming contaminated food.
Some symptoms are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever.
Foodborne germs (bacteria, parasites, viruses) can grow very quickly in foods left at room temperature for more than two hours.
Do not prepare food if you are feeling sick or have any type of respiratory illness or infection.
Food poisoning can be serious. If at any time during the preparing/cooking process you are uncertain of something or think a food poisoning situation may have occurred, don’t hesitate to get help from your local poison control center.
Call 1-800-222-1222 for free, medical treatment advice and information, 24/7. If someone is unconscious, not breathing, hard to wake up, or having a seizure, call 9-1-1.
New Jersey residents: Call (1-800-222-1222); Text (973-339-0702); Chat via website. Contact the NJ Poison Control Center for questions, emergencies, and information regarding lead or other poison-related exposure.