Give Thanks- But Not In Person

Having an in-person Thanksgiving celebration this fall is irresponsible and selfish.

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The Swisher family prays before eating Thanksgiving dinner at a church shelter where they have been staying after losing their home in Paradise, Calif., in the Camp fire, on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in Chico, Calif. (Gina Ferazzi/Los AngelesTimes/TNS)

Maggie McKinney, Website Editor-In-Chief

Thanksgiving. A time-honored American tradition that celebrates families and friends coming together and rejoicing that American colonizers exploited and massacred Native Americans for the sake of imperialism and manifest destiny. Regardless, it is a beloved holiday enjoyed by every kind of American. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, families are preparing to gather and celebrate Thanksgiving. And they shouldn’t. The pandemic is not going to simply disappear in the name of holiday cheer. It is irresponsible for people to gather to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, and doing so will have dire consequences. 

COVID-19, a virus first introduced in the U.S. in January, has ravaged communities across the country and has decimated the economy and public well-being. After most state-mandated lockdowns ended around May, cases began to skyrocket. And with in-person school starting again in many states, businesses reopening, and the increase of holidays, cases in the United States are growing exponentially. As of Nov. 16, there have been 11,114,151 confirmed cases in the and 246,758 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Resource Center. 

Gathering in large groups during a pandemic is simply irresponsible, and is not justified by holiday gatherings. Halloween 2020 proved this sentiment. House parties and public outings across the nation (without masks or social distancing) led to a spike in confirmed cases immediately after the holiday and forced the closure of many in-person schools, including Sion and Excelsior Springs. Canadian Thanksgiving, which was celebrated on Oct. 12, should be heeded as an additional warning. Two weeks after the holiday, the average number of reported cases in a week rose from 2,376 to 2,823, and by Nov. 10, the number rose to 4401, according to Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Resource Center. 

Some may claim that because they are just gathering with their extended family, they are safe from getting COVID-19 and passing it along to others. Besides, it doesn’t matter if everyone is consenting to the large gathering, right? Wrong. People’s circles are larger than many people think. The average person interacts with family and friends everyday, but also food service workers, random passers-by on the street, essential employees, and countless other people that anyone could unintentionally give the virus to. And the virus can incubate in the body for up to five days before infecting the person, according to the Center for Disease Control, and so a person could unknowingly be infecting hundreds of people in that five day period. So just because a gathering is “family only,” does not mean the virus will only be contained within the attendees. 

Everyone loves Thanksgiving. But it is more important to keep people healthy and safe during this time than to see everyone at the dinner table. Having a Zoom Thanksgiving gathering is a much safer option, or to simply postpone the gathering until COVID-19 is under control. Whatever the case, do not gather ‘round the table this Thanksgiving. Keep people safe this holiday season.