The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is recommending that Michiganders find new ways of celebrating together over the holidays. On Monday, MDHSS issued Thanksgiving celebration guidance for vulnerable populations, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Not surprisingly, many of those recommendations include previous tips such as remaining six feet apart, wearing a face covering, washing hands often and limiting the number of visitors at any one time.


On November 18th, MDHHS issued an epidemic order that limited indoor gatherings to no more than two households. This order does not prohibit residents of the facilities above from leaving a care facility, however, it is recommended that:

  • Residents be strongly encouraged to stay in place, especially in light of increasing prevalence of COVID-19 cases.
  • Providers and direct care staff educate residents and their family and friends on the associated risk of leaving a care facility and attending gatherings with family and friends as well as the steps they should take to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • Providers encourage residents to stay connected with loved ones through alternative means of communication, such as phone and video calls.


MDHHS has many specific guidelines for gatherings at care sites, specifically, which include:

  • Limit close contact (maintain physical distancing of six feet or more), adhere to the gathering restrictions in the Nov. 18 order, and use technology to engage with others remotely.
  • Wear a facemask or cloth face covering at all times (including in cars and homes) unless actively eating or drinking, or medical exemptions apply.
  • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items.
  • Keep safe around food and drinks. Avoid communal serving utensils, passing of food and potluck or buffet style food service, and instead opt for individually prepared plates by a single server.
  • Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer often.
  • Avoid large gatherings, crowded areas and high-risk activities such as singing.
  • For those attending a gathering, avoid contact with individuals outside of their household for 14 days prior to the gathering if possible and follow MDHHS’s guidance for safe social gatherings.
  • Ask anyone who has signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, to not attend the gathering.
  • If possible, conduct gatherings outdoors. Indoor gatherings should have good ventilation, consider opening windows and doors if possible.
  • Verbally greet others instead of shaking hands or giving hugs. Think ahead about how you will manage to prevent physical interactions with loved ones of different ages such as young children.
  • All residents who leave the care facility should be screened upon return and if symptomatic, a resident’s health care provider or the local health department should be contacted to determine if quarantine is warranted.
  • Strictly adhere to all testing, visitation and re-entry after visitation requirements for care facilities subject to the Wednesday, Oct. 21 Epidemic Order or Thursday, Oct. 29 Epidemic Order.
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