Thanksgiving is upon us, and like so many other things in 2020, this one is going to be a little different.

State and local health officials are asking — even imploring — people to limit out-of-state travel during the upcoming holidays. They’re also reminding us to avoid large gatherings, strongly advising us to limit all social gatherings to 10 people or under.

This is antithetical to the very nature of Thanksgiving. After all, the centerpiece of a traditional Thanksgiving table is a 23-pound bird. And some of us — no need to mention any names —consider any less than six pies to be cheating. How in the world does a group of nine people eat an entire turkey and six pies by themselves?

And, with many members of our community also celebrating Christmas in a month, we’re asking people to limit travel out of state and reconsider whether to welcome out-of-state visitors. For most people who celebrate Christmas, it is a time of intergenerational family gatherings.

The thought of grandparents and toddlers not seeing each other is heartbreaking.

We hear you. We see you. We get it.

We’re all tired of this pandemic and the restrictions it brings with it. We’re over strategizing which kid gets to see which friends. We’re over staying home with the sniffles and quarantining after possible exposures. And boy, are we over Zoom.

But the pandemic isn’t over, and unfortunately, our case numbers are rising. The pandemic isn’t done with us, so we don’t get to be done with it. As Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine recently said: “This is the worst time to let COVID fatigue set in.”

If you are unable to cancel travel or have out-of-state guests, the state urges you to follow state guidelines strictly. As of this printing, out-of-state visitors from yellow or red counties may quarantine in their home for 14 days (or 7 days followed by a negative PCR test), provided that they are traveling directly to Vermont in a personal vehicle with minimal stops (no overnight stops).

Vermonters traveling for non-essential purposes to red or yellow counties must quarantine for 14 days upon return home (or 7 days followed by a negative PCR test).

You can find the most up-to-date information at healthvermont.gov/response/coronavirus-covid-19/traveling-vermont. Read the information carefully and follow it strictly, as the guidelines may change.

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The Lamoille area has a wide range of supports available to help people as we move into the next phase of the pandemic in Vermont. Here are two ways to access information on these resources.

The United Way of Lamoille County website is the central hub for Lamoille-area resources. It is regularly updated with timely information, with many important local resources and links to state resources. If you or someone you know are looking for anything in human services, or if you’re trying to find information about any other resources, your first stop should be the United Way’s resource page (uwlamoille.org/get-help/covid-19-resources.html).

On Thursday, Nov. 19, at 5:30 p.m., Lamoille Area Health and Human Services Response Command Center is hosting a Zoom event with a panel of local experts and peers who will share resources for handling stress, anxiety and substance misuse. Register at uwlamoille.org/zoom-event.html. No one in the Lamoille area should feel they have to go it alone in this time of incredible stress.

•••

Our local healthcare workers join the state in encouraging everyone to get a flu shot this year to avoid a double-pandemic. Influenza weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to COVID-19. Additionally, widespread flu vaccination will reduce strain on our healthcare system this winter.

Local pharmacies and primary care physicians are providing flu shots. The Community Health Team through the Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley can help people navigate the medical system, including transportation to flu shots. Call 888-6017 or email cht@chslv.org.

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Everyone Eats provides nutritious meals to Vermonters in need of food assistance as well as a stabilizing source of income for Vermont restaurants, farmers and food producers. Everyone Eats has weekly meal distribution in our area for those who are experiencing food insecurity due to the pandemic.

There is also a large distribution of meals on Nov. 13 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Lamoille Field Days in Johnson. To enroll in the weekly or large distribution Everyone Eats program or for more information, email ereid@capstonevt.org.

•••

The state has rolled out a new initiative called The COVID Talk. Before you or your family get together with people, have a conversation to negotiate boundaries and set expectations. The four points to cover are:

• Ask questions so you all understand how folks have been socializing.

• Focus on what you need, not what others are doing.

• Share why it is important to you in a non-judgemental way.

• Set boundaries and stick to them, remembering that clear expectations are critical.

For more on the COVID Talk, click on the link at uwlamoille.org.


Emily Rosenbaum is public information officer for the Lamoille Area Health and Human Services Response Command Center (LAH2S-RCC), a collection of people from about 30 area health and human services agencies working together to meet the health, food, mental health/substance misuse, shelter and employment needs of the Lamoille health region. If you want to get on the weekly newsletter list for regular updates, email emily.rosenbaum@lah2s-rcc.org.

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