By Tim McNicholas

CHICAGO (CBS) — Medical experts almost unanimously say skip Thanksgiving with anyone outside your immediate household, but we know many of you aren’t going to listen to that advice.

So, Morning Insider Tim McNicholas tells us the precautions you should take to try to keep COVID-19 from crashing the party.

“Spending Thanksgiving with your family isn’t going to feel nearly as good if you’re having people spend Christmas in the ICU,” says Emily Landon, an infectious disease expert at University of Chicago Medicine.

Landon says mask wearing is a must.

“You should have your mask on when you’re indoors, around people that are not living in your household. Period,” she says.

The longest you should go maskless is 15 minutes.

“That kind of means eat fast, which I know is not a big Thanksgiving thing to do,” she says. 

If you’re celebrating with high risk family members or friends, Landon says being six feet apart indoors is not good enough. Have grandma and other seniors dig in first before everyone else takes their masks off.

Most of us share food family style or at a buffet, which may not fly this year.

“The best way that I can think of to serve food is to not share any utensils at all and have the person who is dishing things up wear a mask and wash their hands,” Landon says.

So that means Aunt Rita or one person should play waitress.

But if you end up passing plates, make sure everyone soaps up before indulging.

“And then anything you can do to increase ventilation. That means cranking up the heat, putting on your coats and throwing open the doors and the windows,” says Landon.

One bit of good news: the good doctor says it is OK to give Uncle Irv or Cousin Betty a hug.

So if a traditional Thanksgiving is not in the cards, consider making grandma’s candied sweet potatoes together over Zoom or playing some virtual games post turkey coma.

Also replace a shared hand towel in the bathroom with paper towels. But there is no need to use paper plates and disposable silverware. Dr. Landon says the dishwasher would kill any germs.

Tim McNicholas