Four ways college students can make their families safer if they head home for Thanksgiving - starting now
College students planning to head home for Thanksgiving can take a series of steps to help protect their families as the COVID-19 crisis in the state and Milwaukee County just continues to grow.
And those steps start now.
"As we've set new records for cases, hospitalizations and deaths week after week, we can see very clearly that our situation is worsening," said Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services at the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management. "And as we see this worsening situation in the state and much of the country, it leads to particular challenges around Thanksgiving."
Weston recommended four steps that college students who plan to come home for the holiday can take to lower the risk of giving the virus to family members who may be more vulnerable due to age and overall health.
Don't take COVID-19 lightly
The state's trends are "terrible," he said, asking that students and families not take COVID-19 lightly or underestimate the risks.
"You want to make sure that everyone who can sit around the Thanksgiving table (for) dinner this year will be able to also sit around it next year," he said.
Quarantine as much as possible — starting now
Weston said ideally college students would quarantine for two weeks before having contact with their families — a particular challenge for those living on campuses.
Students who have to attend class in person should wear masks and physically distance, he said. And students should also avoid social gatherings, restaurants, bars and interacting with people they do not live with.
Consider driving home alone
By driving home alone, or with people with whom students already live, they will limit potential exposure from flying or using other public transportation.
Consider getting tested within a few days of going home
Getting tested within a few days of returning home may help catch COVID-19 cases in young people, who may not have symptoms but could be contagious, he said.
"As with any time you're tested without symptoms, it's so important to remember that a negative test is just a snapshot in time," Weston said. "It doesn't mean you don't have the virus or that you won't become contagious or symptomatic in the next few days. It doesn't negate the need quarantine, but it is an added layer of protection."