With COVID-19 cases surging across the country, public health officials and ICU doctors are pleading with Americans to reconsider gathering with family members ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday for fear of spreading the virus even further.
“We really don’t have a national or even multi-state plan, and that worries me,” said Dr. Stephen Morse with Columbia University.
While he strongly recommends against it, Dr. Morse knows inevitably some people will still get together on Thursday. His advice is to have a multi-layered safety approach.
The first layer involves testing. He’s urging people to avoid those rapid tests if they can because they’re less accurate.
With so many Americans trying to get tested right now, officials also say it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared to potentially not get results back before Thanksgiving.
“Testing is really important because it’s the only way we can find people who aren’t obviously sick and stop them,” Dr. Morse added.
Health officials say if you are planning a small family gathering, get tested before you see high-risk family members. Americans are also being urged to consider virtual holiday gatherings whenever possible.
If you are gathering with people outside your household, eat in separate rooms or consider eating outdoors.
“What I’ve seen is once it gets into a family, because we let our guard down around our family, everybody gets infected,” explained Dr. John Coleman, who works in the ICU at Northwestern University’s teaching hospital in Chicago.
Dr. Coleman says there are just too many variables to consider when it comes to gathering for Thanksgiving this year.
“I think we are on the cusp of some very, very dark months. What we’ve seen is the increase of COVID across the nation is going to eventually stress the health system.”