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White Plains, NY – Westchester County Executive George Latimer encourages residents to keep their Thanksgiving celebrations small and as safe as possible this year and to follow the Health Department’s tips for a healthier holiday.

Latimer said: “This is the year to make your Thanksgiving gathering more intimate, and to cherish your immediate family members and traditions. Consider setting time for a virtual visit with distant relatives and friends. If you do invite others to your holiday table, spend some time outdoors and keep the windows open when you’re inside.”

Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, offered some extra advice to reduce COVID-19 exposure:

Amler said: “It is especially important to keep uninvited germs out of your holiday meal, so wash your hands thoroughly when you arrive and before you take that first bite. Good hand hygiene can help reduce the risk of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.”

Restaurants have taken steps to increase safety, but outdoor dining remains preferable to indoors. When dining out, if you do not see a permit, contact the Health Department to assure the restaurant complies with State and County sanitary codes.

At home, when you remove your fresh or defrosted turkey from the refrigerator, do not wash it -- this spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. Fully cook the turkey to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness. The Health Department recommends holiday hosts and their helpers follow these 10 food safety tips:

For more food preparation safety tips, go to SDA Meat & Poultry Hotline: 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) USDA-FSIS: Chat live with a food safety specialist in English or Spanish at (En Español), 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. Web-based automated response system available 24/7.