When it comes to planning our Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings this year, we should all party like it’s March again.
In other words, treat this holiday like you did when the coronavirus was just starting to spread throughout the country and when we were collectively hunkering down to keep it from spreading.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has personally overseen the state’s efforts to keep the virus under control, earlier this week cautioned New Yorkers against holding large family gatherings over the holidays.
This isn’t another edict from “King Cuomo” that his detractors can handily dismiss as part of his perceived power grab.
The state has largely reopened, with reasonable restrictions on gatherings. There aren’t any travel restrictions within the state.
On Saturday, the governor lifted the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement for high-infection states, but travelers from any state will have to get a test before and after arriving. So for the most part, you’re free to do whatever you want in your homes with regard to having family members over.
But for the most part, you’re free to do whatever you want in your homes with regard to having family members over.
But visiting with relatives, even in fairly small gatherings, is not just a bad idea. It’s a dangerous one.
Already, we’re seeing in this state and elsewhere around the country that coronavirus cases almost always spike after weddings, family gatherings and even carpooling.
The governor in his recommendation cited one small wedding in western New York that led to 18 cases of coronavirus and a small birthday party on Long Island that generated 22.
While President Trump falsely and recklessly repeats that we’re turning a corner on the disease, the facts actually point to a significant upturn, with no immediate relief in sight.
If we are turning a corner, someone on Twitter wrote, we’re turning down a dark alley.
As of Thursday, according to The Washington Post, nearly 90,000 new coronavirus infections were reported in the United States, setting a record for the pandemic.
The total number of infections reported nationwide since February is now over 9 million.
Just 17 days ago, that figure was 8 million.
At least 228,000 deaths have been linked to the coronavirus as of Friday. Citing 47 four-week models, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated last week that the death toll in the U.S. from the virus could rise to between 243,000 and 256,000 by Nov. 21, the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
By Feb. 1, according to one of the nation’s most reliable models, the U.S. death toll could increase by 170,000, to nearly 390,000.
And that doesn’t factor in the potential double-whammy from the upcoming flu season.
If you want further proof of how a virus can explode as people flock inside during the cold weather, look back to the 1918 flu pandemic.
Since the flu and the coronavirus are spread roughly the same way, through the air and contact with surfaces, lessons from 102 years ago apply today.
And the lesson we can learn from 1918 is that the flu pandemic exploded in the fall, after modest waves of infection in the spring and summer of the same year.
Winter air is dryer, allowing virus-carrying particles to linger in the air longer.
Drier air means our nasal membranes are drier and more vulnerable to infection.
And because more of us are indoors in the winter, we’re more likely to spread and contract the virus to one another.
The gathering of individuals from different homes in one enclosed space, say, for Thanksgiving or Christmas events, is an invitation to more illness and death.
Look, we’re all exhausted from this. But the virus is still dangerous — and still spreading.
In fact, if we don’t take the same types of precautions we took to flatten the curve that we did in the spring, we could see a resurgence this fall and winter that exceeds the earlier case loads.
That means more sickness. A return to shutdowns. A return to overwhelming our medical facilities and medical professionals.
Treat the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays like you did Easter and the summer holidays. Stay separate and communicate remotely.
Do Zoom holidays so you can see and hear your loved ones without exposing them to infection. Enjoy the TV football games by phone or email.
Eat at the same time, but in separate locations.
Remember, the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are particularly vulnerable, but any of us at any age or health condition, including healthy young adults and children, can get very sick or die from this.
We know it’s hard. But we have to do it.
We might all be done with the coronavirus, but it’s not done with us.
Party like it’s March.
Celebrate together. But do it apart.