As you celebrate this week, we hope you’re eating well and enjoying the company of loved ones. After the last two years of isolation, where our holidays were taken from us by the COVID emergency, we all deserve a healthy and happy season of thanks and celebration.

Before you dig in, here are some tips for gathering and eating safely.

Before you get together with others, get tested for COVID-19. You can pick up free at-home rapid antigen tests at NYC museums, zoos, libraries and other locations throughout the city. Many of these sites also offer free masks. To find a location near you, visit NYC At-Home COVID-19 Test Kit Pickup.

Even if you’re COVID negative, ask yourself how you feel before meeting with others. Sniffles, a light cough, a little tired? These symptoms could be signs of a contagious illness. While mild for you, they could cause serious illness for babies or people who have weakened immunity. This is especially true for RSV, which can seriously impact infants 0-12 months. If you don’t feel well, stay home.

And don’t forget. It is never too late to get vaccinated! So get your updated COVID booster and flu shot as soon as you can. It is safe to get them at the same time. To find a nearby COVID-19 and flu vaccination provider, visit We have appointments all throughout the holiday week.

Now for food! For most of us, this is the best part of the season. But there are some things you may not know about keeping the season’s gastronomic delight from turning into a gastrointestinal plight.

For starters, NEVER thaw a turkey or frozen meat in hot water or by leaving on the counter. Properly thaw frozen meat by: leaving in the refrigerator (24 hours for every four-to five pounds) or by placing it in cold water (30 minutes for every pound of turkey, change water every 30 minutes, cook immediately after). Keep raw meat—like turkey—separate from other foods. The juices from raw meat may contain bacteria that make people sick. That means using separate cooking utensils, too. Wash your hands and surfaces often and wash utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.

Making dessert? Avoid eating foods with raw eggs, like unbaked cookie dough or cake batter. While you may know that raw eggs can be contaminated with salmonella, raw baking ingredients can also make people sick if they’re contaminated with germs.

Bacteria live in the “danger zone” of 40°F to 140°F. Refrigerate your leftovers within 2 hours of serving to prevent bacteria from growing.

These and other food safety tips are included in the year-round trainings that the NYC Health Department provides to more than 25,000 NYC restaurants.

To find other safe cooking and dining advice, go to:

So dine like a pro and follow these tips for a happy and healthy holiday.

With love,

The NYC Health Department