Greenwich Health Dept: Stay on Top of COVID over the Thanksgiving Holiday

Written by By Dr. Stephanie Paulmeno, DNP, RN, NHA, CPH, CCM, CDP Public Health Education Specialist at the Greenwich Department of Health

Thanksgiving is upon us. With COVID numbers again climbing we must consider more than just preparing and gathering for Thanksgiving dinner. Getting and being vaccinated is a critical for preventing the spread of COVID; as are wearing masks and staying socially separated. You will not know who around you has COVID-19, or who has an underlying health conditions or weakened immune system that makes them more susceptible to catching COVID even if they are vaccinated. These people can have a more limited ability to develop the fully robust ideal antibody response. Breakthrough cases can and do occur, but being vaccinated will, with 99+% assurance, prevent people from being hospitalized, placed in the ICU, or dying.

Greenwich and Connecticut have done well, but this status is fluid; not all of Connecticut is doing equally well.

As of November 16th , Connecticut had 14,752 active COVID cases. We had already lost 8,809 of our friends and loved ones (Worldometer: CT). Between the end of October and mid-November Greenwich was averaging 9.5 new cases per day (, and this was prior to the recent increases seen this past week. Connecticut’s “red zones” numbers creep up and down and has resulted in an increase in referred contact tracing cases over the last week. The Governor’s daily report shows Fairfield County, New Haven County and Hartford County jockeying for the dubious distinction of being #1 in the categories of the highest total numbers of cases, number of hospitalizations, and numbers of COVID deaths.

The pandemic continues to infect our young, the old, and everyone in between. Over 99% of COVID patients requiring hospitalization or who die continue to be our unvaccinated. This is needless when a safe and virtually painless vaccine can save your life. In Greenwich, all age groups with the exception of our 25 to 44 year olds have favorable vaccination rates. The former groups range from 81% to 91% while the 25-44 year olds continue to have abysmally low vaccination rates here in Town (66.61%) placing themselves and others in jeopardy.

As you make your Thanksgiving dinner plans consider your family’s individual and group risks. These will be different for everyone. Weigh them carefully and plan your invite list and your seating arrangements accordingly.

Spread your group out and use good ventilation where you can. Consider from where are your dinner guests are coming? You can check for Connecticut “red zones” on or for other areas across the nation by Googling Worldometer America. A high risk person and those who are unvaccinated may want to wear a mask except when eating. Remember that a high risk contact is being within 6 feet of a person (or multiple people) with COVID for a total of 15 minutes. You will not be able to tell if an asymptomatic man, woman, or child has a COVID infection. In planning your celebration take into consideration whether your guests are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had any exposures or symptoms that could be COVID? Are you and your own family members vaccinated? Will your family gathering include people with underlying health risks that increase their risk of catching COVID, and of becoming very sick from it (advanced age, heart, lung, kidney disease, being diabetic, having cancer or undergoing treatment for cancer; those with auto-immune diseases or on medications that can weaken one’s immune system.; those (young or old) who are obese, Black, Hispanic, or of an Indigenous-people culture).

And let’s not forget about seasonal flu. We are in the midst of flu season but it is not too late to get vaccinate against COVID, to get your COVID Booster or 3 rd shot, or to get your flu vaccine. COVID booster shots and third vaccines are being encouraged because we have long known that immunity wanes over time. Being vaccinated against COVID does not protect you against the flu, and getting your flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID. You need both!

To find vaccine sites for COVID and the flu, check out the website of the Greenwich Department of Health
at It will provide you with multiple other sources and sites.

You can check the Connecticut Department of Public Health website for vaccine sites at

Seasonal flu shots are available in medical offices, local pharmacies and clinics that are set up and announced by the Greenwich Department of Health, Greenwich Hospital and other locations.