Creating a safe coronavirus pod for Thanksgiving

As Michigan's new restrictions go into effect Wednesday morning, it will come just one week before one of the biggest holidays of the year. There is a bit of good news, however. You can celebrate with another family if you're smart about it.

The fall and winter holidays are usually met with celebrations as we come together with each other, typically over food, fun, and drinks. So how do you do that in a COVID world? Carefully.

Michigan's new restrictions limit gatherings to 10 people or less - with another household. The reason for only one other household is it greatly limits the number of possible contacts each person could have. 

You can make the season possible by creating a safe social pod to give you part of that holiday you're longing for while also keeping everyone safe.

Dr. Kenneth Koncilja of the Cleveland Clinic says it's a tough call about whether your elderly loved ones should be included or stay home this year.

"Patients who have cognitive impairment or dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, history of strokes, often rely on socialization to help preserve their function or their memory and so not being around people, being isolated, can also lead to worse health outcomes for some people," he said.

For months, the virus has forced many of us to keep our distance from the elderly as older people have a higher risk and higher mortality rates from COVID-19. The question of how to keep our older loved ones safe but not depriving them of time to socialize is still one we're trying to solve.

Koncilja says if an older person decides to come over, you should make sure everyone is wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and spread out your seating. And, of course, wash your hands.

"Handwashing is a very vital part of our defense for protecting us and for protecting vulnerable older adults and small children from respiratory viruses, so don’t forget hand washing amidst everything else," Koncilja said.

If relatives don't feel comfortable, there are still ways to connect on the phone or video chat.

As for your safe social pod, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says it's imperative you follow the do's and don't's: