Thanksgiving and COVID-19

Note: With Thanksgiving being the first of many celebratory holidays on the horizons, public health officials caution everyone to consider how they can make their festivities as safe as possible. We know choosing to celebrate Thanksgiving away from our loved ones is a difficult decision. The Center for Student Wellness urges our students to make decisions that are best for the health and safety of their families. If you do choose to travel, read Leslie and Alexia's tips on doing so as safe as possible!
Staying Safe during the holiday Season
BY Leslie Salamanca and Alexia Arredondo


Earlier this month, the University of Utah released a message to the campus community asking students to report to a COVID-19 testing location and be tested for coronavirus before heading onto Thanksgiving festivities. This announcement came just days before Governor Gary Herbert’s new State of Emergency throughout the state of Utah that included a statewide mask mandate, a limit on gatherings to household members only, masks and physical distancing requirements, a hold on extracurricular activities and athletics and lastly, expanded COVID-19 testing started with Utah’s colleges and universities.

This leaves a lot of questions for students to think through as we head into the holidays. What should I do to make sure I’m keeping myself and those around me safe while traveling? Where can my family or friends go to get tested if they aren’t U of U students prior to having them over?

While traveling this upcoming break, practice #SafeSix, help your family and friends get tested for COVID-19 and engage safely in holiday traditions such as Black Friday and family gatherings.

Practice #SafeSix while traveling:

Keep in mind the #SafeSix tips while you travel, whether it be 2 minutes, 20 miles away or 200 miles away. Remember to:

Practice physical distancing: Elbow bumps, air hugs or Zoom calls are great alternatives to hugging a family member you haven’t seen in months!

Wear a face covering: Remember to wear your fall-themed face mask except when eating - especially if going out of the primary location you will be staying.

Wash your hands: Whether it be because you’re helping out in the kitchen, or coming across various surfaces, remember to wash your hands as often as possible for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.

Practice good hygiene: Try to not touch your face and carry hand sanitizer at all times.

Disinfect surfaces regularly: Be cautious of high-touch zones in the space you’re staying at, and make sure disinfectant wipes are available!

Stay home and take care of yourself: Keep this year’s Thanksgiving dinners to immediate family members only. Zoom our aunties and FaceTime Grandpa. Especially if you are feeling symptoms or test positive, be sure to stay home and quarantine to keep your loved ones safe. We know these aren’t the ideal holidays we were looking forward to, but by taking the precautions stated above and practicing #SafeSix, we are one step closer to being able to spend future holidays together without the risk of unknowingly spreading the virus to our loved ones.


COVID Testing Sites:

If you aren’t able to make it to the university sponsored testing, want to get retested to be safe, or know someone who you’re traveling with that would like to be tested- whatever the reason- the state has expanded their COVID-19 testing efforts to reach more members of the community. Here are some COVID-19 testing sites in Salt Lake County that are offering testing before heading on Thanksgiving festivities:

Maverick Center (3200 South Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City, UT 84119)

Testing done:

Tuesdays, 2pm-5pm; Thursdays, 2pm-5pm; Saturdays, 10am-2pm

CLOSED the following dates:

November 26 and 28

COVID testing is for people with symptoms or who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID (register in advance by calling 385-468-4082)

Utah Partners for Health (8446 S Harrison St. Midvale, UT 84047)

Testing Hours:

Tuesdays, 8:30am-12:30pm

Anyone who develops COVID symptoms, has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or would just like to get tested will be considered for drive-up or walk-up testing at no cost.

Fun Fact: I, Leslie, work at this testing site, so say hi if you happen to see me!

All COVID-19 testing in Utah is at no cost to you. Find other testing opportunities at

We all know Thanksgiving is going to look different this year. Even if there’s no travel involved, gathering indoors with extended family and friends can be risky. For Black Friday, if you don’t want to go out shopping there is always Cyber Monday. Do research on your favorite stores as they might be doing online sales already. If you are going out, make sure you are practicing guidelines, wear a mask, and carry hand sanitizer. Remember to take care of yourself, connect with your loved ones virtually if possible, and keep in mind the various precautions in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19.




Leslie is a senior double majoring in Health, Society, and Policy and Sociology.

She is an ACES Peer Health Educator on the Violence Prevention team.




Alexia is a junior majoring in Kinesiology.

She is an ACES Peer Health Educator on the Sexual Wellness team.