Thanksgiving during the pandemic

Olivia Guy, Staffer

Sophomore Jana Isern normally celebrates Thanksgiving with her family and a few friends with turkey and a baked pie. Similar to other American families craving a little normality in their routine with the 2020 holiday season just around the corner, her family plans to try to keep the traveling to a minimum by possibly traveling to Charlottesville for a few days, in line with health officials’ urgent message to limit gatherings and take precautions this holiday season. 

A traditional Isern Thanksgiving consists of weekend traveling and an exploration of new places; for example, Isern went to New York last year with some friends to see the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade.

 For many, a traditional Thanksgiving includes a family meal and gathering. Although no-mask human contact may seem tempting, health officials are urging people to limit gatherings and take necessary precautions this holiday season. Traveling for Thanksgiving this year is strongly discouraged per the CDC’s new holiday guidelines. Early this month, the Governors of Washington, California, and Oregon issued a statement urging people to not travel this Thanksgiving, and if they do, they are encouraged to quarantine for 14 days if they cross state lines. 

Health officials agree the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to limit gatherings to people who live full time in the same household. Traveling out of state to multigenerational houses could send infection rates skyrocketing. The smaller the gathering, the less the chance of infection rates. 

A video chat to eat and see friends and family on Thanksgiving is another way to stay home but still get some time with loved ones, stated the CDC. 

Sophomore Ava Bell wrote, “I don’t think it’s okay for people to gather and travel. The pandemic is continuing to spread and health is the number one priority during these times.” She also wrote, “During the holidays, many people visit their families, including their grandparents. Older people are at high risk of getting sick, so we should do whatever we can to keep them safe and healthy.”

Before traveling, perhaps consider getting tested for Covid-19. With that being said, do not let a negative test lead to a false sense of security. Health officials remind the public that the test only shows the results of the test that day and does not protect people for the days leading up to the event. 

Airlines such as Delta and Alaska have taken steps to make it easier for travelers to modify their holiday travel plans by waving exchange fees during the pandemic. Despite the consistent urges to not travel this year, about a million people over the past three days have boarded planes, and these numbers are only expected to grow. In fact, the three million passengers over the past five days mark the biggest airport crowd since mid-March. 

According to the CDC, if traveling is necessary, a solo car trip to the destination is the safest way to limit exposure. 

In general, the safest way to be with people is to wear a mask as much as possible and keep a distance of six feet or more from people not residing in the same household. Keeping the gathering outside if there is space available is another good option if the weather permits because it offers the best air circulation for limited exposure. 

With all the new guidelines and information coming out about holiday traveling and gatherings, some families, like the Iserns, are changing up their Thanksgiving plans while others are keeping their Thanksgiving relatively the same.

An anonymous source for The Page wrote he normally travels for Thanksgiving to see family in Kentucky; this year, however, he will spend a quiet Thanksgiving at home instead and have his “regular” Thanksgiving meal. Along with staying home, his grandma will not be visiting either. 

Bell, however, will have a relatively “normal” Thanksgiving. Her sisters will come home from college, along with some friends, and they will have a big dinner, much like any other year. 

According to the CDC guidelines, limiting Thanksgiving gatherings is not the only way to keep safe this Thanksgiving. Staying away from large events and crowds is also an important step to ensure low exposure. 

Opting for online shopping on Cyber Monday is a way to limit exposure from large crowds instead of shopping on Black Friday. This falls into the same category as watching parades and sporting events from home.

In line with CDC guidelines, this year’s well-known Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade is experiencing some major changes to stay proactive during the pandemic. The parade will be “television-only” and parade participants will be reduced by nearly 75 percent from past years. Participants also must be at least 18-years-old in this year’s parade.

Along with the reduced number of crew members, the parade route will be a short one block instead of the usual 2.5-mile length.

Regarding Thanksgiving and the holiday season during COVID-19, Isern said, “I have mixed feelings. I understand that families want to gather and celebrate Thanksgiving together especially now that we don’t have much to look forward to, but I also feel that we should try to limit the amount of contact and travel this Thanksgiving.”