Coronavirus Thanksgiving: CDC and Fauci Warn Against Large Family Gatherings
Thanksgiving is going to look very different this year, with public health experts warning that traditional plans for large family gatherings and interstate travel could fuel another surge in coronavirus cases, according to Sinclair News.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, top U.S. immunologist and director of National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advised that people may have to “bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering.”
Unless they can be certain they’re not gathering with infected people or spreading the virus, many households may have to forgo traditional family get-togethers this year.
The United States is already seeing an uptick with close to 100,000 daily new cases and about 38 states reporting an increase in virus cases over the past week. Those numbers are expected to get worse heading into the cooler months of fall and winter. According to some estimates, the country could see 400,000 coronavirus deaths by the end of the year, if there is a significant outbreak this fall and winter.
“I think given the fluid and dynamic nature of what’s going on right now in the spread and the uptick in infections, I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings,” Fauci said.
Fauci noted his plans for Thanksgiving changed because they would involve his children flying in from three states. “I would love to have it with my children,” he said. “They themselves, because of their concern for me and my age, have decided they’re not going to come for Thanksgiving, even though all three of them want very much to come home.”
Just weeks away, Thanksgiving is coming at a time when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has become increasingly concerned about indoor gatherings, even smaller family gatherings. In recent months, contact tracers in various states have reported clusters of infections tied to small social gatherings. In a call with governors obtained by CNN, CDC Director Robert Redfield alerted state officials of those risks.
Many people have gotten accustomed to taking extra precautions at work and outside their homes, including wearing masks and avoiding close physical contact. At home, they are more comfortable getting together, and that has become a factor in spreading the virus, said Dr. Deborah Birx, lead coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. “It’s happening in homes and social occasions and people gathering and taking their mask off and letting down their guard and not physically distancing.”
That’s a particular concern around Thanksgiving if it involves bringing together different households, that have not been quarantining together, with family members who are at risk for coronavirus complications because of their age or underlying health conditions.
Add on to that the risk associated with travel, by plane, bus, train or other public transportation. According to the CDC, travel increases the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Gatherings with attendees who traveled from different places also pose a higher risk than those with people from the same area.
Staying connecting during the holidays is especially important, experts say. The pandemic has already taken a toll on people psychologically. The CDC reported more than one in four Americans reported an adverse mental health condition, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse or coronavirus-related trauma.
In anticipation of the holidays, the CDC published guidelines to help people assess how risky their Thanksgiving celebrations might be. Among the lowest risk activities, celebrating the holiday with people in your household or within your quarantine group. Though some may scoff at the idea of a Zoom Thanksgiving, that’s also on the CDC’s list of safe ways to celebrate the holiday.
A riskier celebration could include a family meal outside, though the weather in parts of the country could make for cold turkey. The riskiest activities to avoid, according to the CDC, include large indoor gatherings with multiple households, attending crowded parades or sporting events and Black Friday shopping in crowded stores.