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story.lead_photo.caption Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, speaks Monday during a COVID-19 briefing as Gov. Mike Parson looks on. Photo by Submitted photo

This article is free to all readers because it includes information important to the health and safety of our community.

Document: State of Missouri Public Health Warning

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With Gov. Mike Parson's recommendation that families rethink how they celebrate Thanksgiving this year, state health Director Dr. Randall Williams gave a concrete set of precautions to take to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

"You have to be much more thoughtful than you've ever been about Thanksgiving, and you've got to be willing to adapt," Williams said Thursday.

People who plan to spend a holiday with someone else — especially someone with underlying health issues that put them at increased risk of severe complications from COVID-19 — might want to "semi-quarantine" themselves starting about five days before the visit and be purposeful about avoiding chances to catch the coronavirus, he said.

If someone, just before traveling, wakes up with symptoms of COVID-19, "you've got to be willing to change your plans if you become symptomatic" and not go, he added.

Williams said to be aware of other states' requirements that visitors have negative COVID-19 tests before they enter.

Travelers should wear a mask at all times when traveling by plane, bus or train, and pack and use hand sanitizer.

Once at holiday gatherings, celebrating outdoors is better than indoors. Either way, people should practice social distancing and wear masks.

Williams also advised limiting the number of people at gatherings.

"I just don't think anybody's going to have a Thanksgiving like they've always had," he said. "I just don't want anybody to look back at this Thanksgiving with a very negative memory of what happened. I don't want them to look back to the Thanksgiving of 2020 and say, 'That was when x happened.'"

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