MDHHS Releases Thanksgiving Guidelines and Warnings for Older Michiganders

MDHHS Releases Thanksgiving Guidelines and Warnings for Older Michiganders

MICHIGAN - In preparation for Thanksgiving, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a Thanksgiving celebration guidance to keep the community safe and prevent COVID-19 Spread.

On November 18, an epidemic order was issued by MDHHS limiting indoor gatherings to two households max.

“While we are advising everyone to avoid Thanksgiving gatherings beyond their own households, it’s especially critical that residents of nursing homes and other group homes remain in their homes during the holiday,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “If these individuals contract COVID while traveling, they run the risk of bringing it back to others who are especially vulnerable to illness and death.”

This week MDHHS Aging and Adult Services Agency partnered with the company GetSetUp and is offering Thanksgiving-themed social hours and special classes to help older residents learn how to connect with friends and family virtually.

“Older adults are at greater risk for complications related to coronavirus and have had to follow public health guidelines closely, including social distancing,” said Senior Deputy Director of the Aging and Adult Services Agency, Dr. Alexis Travis. “We believe this platform will help reduce social isolation by empowering older adults when it comes to using technology while providing a safe place to learn, grow and make friends.”

Some of the social hours include Thanksgiving then and now, Thanksgiving fun and Thanksgiving leftovers recipe swap. Michiganders can register for these classes by visiting

“This Thanksgiving week, we hope older Michiganders will join some of these social hours as a safe way to engage with others and celebrate the holiday,” said Travis.

Providers at healthcare facilities are also being told to educate families of their residents on the risk of residents leaving the facilities for Thanksgiving this year.

If residents choose to leave the facility, they should wear face masks at all times in cars and in the home unless they are actively eating or drinking. The protocols also recommend avoiding touching commonly used surfaces and buffet or potluck style serving.

Additionally, greetings should be verbal and not include hugging or any form of touching. Washing hands with soap and water frequently is highly encouraged.

Upon return residents who chose to leave the facility will be screened and if they are symptomatic their health care provider and the local health department will be contacted to determine if a quarantine is necessary.

“This year, please celebrate Thanksgiving by Zoom or by phone, and next year’s Thanksgiving will be better,” said Gordon.

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