Canadian Thanksgiving could be a cautionary tale for Americans amid coronavirus surge

“In some areas we are learning that gathering during the Thanksgiving weekend contributed to the elevated case counts we are seeing today,” Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, told reporters Tuesday in Ottawa. “Our actions matter.”

Before the holiday, officials advised Canadians to curtail their plans by limiting celebrations to those living under the same roof or moving the party online, but it is not clear how widely the advice was heeded.

In the United States, where Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday in November, officials issued similar warnings. Last week, the United States hit an all-time high in new coronavirus cases, exceeding 80,000 in a day for the first time.

In an interview with CBS News earlier this month, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, warned that Thanksgiving events could lead to new cases.

“That is, unfortunately, a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting,” he said. “It is unfortunate, because that’s such a sacred part of American tradition.”

But in both Canada and the United States, messaging around how to celebrate has been muddled, with officials at different levels of government offering seemingly conflicting guidance. Ontario Premier Doug Ford described his own holiday plans, then appeared to change them after critics pointed out that they contradicted his own government’s advice to celebrate only with those in one’s immediate household.

Canadian officials are now dealing with the aftermath of the holiday. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Deena Hinshaw, said last week that the Thanksgiving-related cases showed how the virus can exploit human interaction.

“People did not mean to spread covid-19,” she said. “But it is a reminder that social gatherings where distancing and masking are not used consistently are a significant risk for spread.”

In Ontario, officials logged a record-high number of daily cases over the weekend. The province announced restrictions this month in hard-hit areas, including a 28-day ban on indoor dining.

“I think it’s reasonable to think that part of the surge we’re seeing in Toronto is tied to Thanksgiving,” Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, said Monday.

Public health officials in one Toronto suburb issued a notice about a “cluster” of at least 13 coronavirus cases linked to a gathering around Thanksgiving, during which an extended family of 12 shared one residence.

Some family members were symptomatic at the gathering, York Region Public Health said in a news release. One worked while sick, infecting colleagues. Ten family members, including three infants, and people from another household have since tested positive.

“We need to pay more attention to those settings where we have people coming together for celebrations,” Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer, said Monday as she announced new restrictions on private gatherings after a weekend of record new cases.

Infectious-disease specialists have noted that several elements associated with Thanksgiving — interstate travel, students returning home from college and indoor family gatherings — could fuel the virus’s

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Dr. Eric Cioe-Peña and his wife come from large families and typically split the holiday festivities, getting together with one group of relatives for Thanksgiving and another one at Christmas.

This year, they’ll reluctantly keep their distance from both.

“We’re going to have to make sacrifices,” said Cioe-Peña, an emergency room physician and director of Global Health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York. “My wife and I decided this year’s going to be nuclear family, and we’re not inviting anybody over.”

As the holidays approach and the number of coronavirus cases surge, millions of Americans face the decision whether to eschew traditional gatherings with family and friends or risk spreading the virus among loved ones.

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s foremost authority on infectious diseases, and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned about the potential for a spike in infections stemming from holiday parties, even if they’re small and only among relatives.

Memorial Day get-togethers were partly blamed for an increase in COVID-19 cases the USA experienced early in the summer. Events such as a Sweet 16 party late last month in Long Island, New York – linked to 37 positive tests – and a wedding in August in Maine – which led to more than 175 infections – underscore the danger of relatively small social functions turning into superspreaders.

Last week, health officials in the Washington area said small gatherings have been a factor in the region hitting a two-month high in coronavirus cases.

“All along, there have been issues about attending weddings, funerals, religious gatherings and other events that are part of our normal life,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “They bring people together and potentially become vectors for the virus. As many public health experts mention, the virus is attending these events and can be transmitted from person to person.”

The traditional gatherings of relatives and friends during Thanksgiving and other holidays are a source of concern for public health experts, who fear they may lead to a spike in coronavirus cases. (Photo: Getty Images / skynesher)

Don’t let ‘the virus get to grandma’

The CDC, which is discouraging traditional trick-or-treating this Halloween, on Monday updated its guidance about holiday celebrations with advice on how to reduce risk of infection.

The tips for in-person gatherings include commonly known mitigation measures such as holding events outdoors, limiting their size, having participants wear masks and maintaining social distance. The CDC also encourages hosts to request that guests avoid contact with people from outside their household for two weeks before the activity.

Safe inside: Fauci warns against Thanksgiving celebrations: How to stay safe indoors from the coronavirus during cold seasons?

The impracticality of some of the safety measures – it’s hard to fit everybody at a table

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As COVID-19 cases soar, many Americans plan indoor Thanksgiving

As United States COVID-19 cases climb toward a new peak and hospitalizations increase across most of the country, more than a third of registered voters (34 percent) plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends or family from outside their households, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll — and nearly all of them plan to gather indoors.

Another quarter (25 percent) say they’re still not sure how they will spend the Thanksgiving holiday, meaning that right now, amid a worsening pandemic, a majority of American voters are at least considering joining friends or family indoors on Nov. 26.

The survey, which was conducted from Oct. 16 to 18, reveals just how challenging it may be to contain America’s latest COVID-19 surge. New daily cases recently topped 70,000 nationwide for the first time since July; hospitalizations are on the rise in 39 states, with 16 approaching or exceeding all-time highs. Colder weather is making outdoor gatherings impractical in many places. And the big, garrulous, close-knit indoor meals with friends and family that define the holiday season are precisely the stuff that superspreader events are made of. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, told Yahoo News last week that he would not celebrate Thanksgiving with his children because they are concerned about spreading the deadly virus. “I have three children that I would love to see over Thanksgiving,” Fauci said. The 79-year-old doctor noted that he falls in a vulnerable age group.

Yet many Americans won’t be following Fauci’s lead. Beyond the 30 percent of respondents who plan to gather indoors with friends or extended family and the 25 percent who haven’t ruled it out — percentages that could represent tens of millions of people, or more — 9 percent of respondents say they plan to travel for Thanksgiving. Another 9 percent are considering it. And just 21 percent of those who plan to gather with friends or extended family members say they would be willing to cancel their Thanksgiving plans if COVID-19 cases surged in their area. 

One month later, it’s Christmas. 

The point isn’t to shame Americans into skipping the holidays. We’re all weary of the virus. We all want to hit pause for a special day. We’re all desperate to eat, drink, relax and watch football with loved ones. And we all care about keeping our friends and family safe. There are no satisfying choices here. 

But America will face a test on Thanksgiving, and it’s basically just a supercharged version of the test we have faced throughout the pandemic: How much normal is OK right now? 

The problem is that it’s a test we have failed time and again in circumstances far less tempting than Thanksgiving — which in turn is why Thanksgiving itself has suddenly become a far more dangerous temptation than it had to be. 

According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, a majority of American voters are at least considering joining friends or family indoors on Thanksgiving. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photo: EyeEm/Getty Images)
According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, a majority of American voters are at least considering joining friends or family indoors on Thanksgiving. (Photo illustration: Yahoo
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Infectious Disease Expert Contradicts Anthony Fauci, Reveals How Thanksgiving Travel Could Be Safe

While Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning against large family gatherings and travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., another health expert is saying that those who utilize proper precautions should be okay to do some traveling over the holidays.

Speaking to WPTV, an NBC affiliate station, Dr. Kleper De Almeida, an infectious disease specialist with JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, Florida, said that he felt travel could take place over the holiday season, including Thanksgiving, so long as those choosing to travel did so in a smart and safe way.

“As long as people take the measures that we should be applying every day, it would be safe to travel,” he said. “We need to be very mindful of that while we travel to protect ourselves from exposure, and in doing so, minimizing the risk of bringing it back to our communities.”

De Almeida’s comments directly contradict ones made by Fauci, who is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and has been seen as the face of COVID-19, as he repeatedly warns Americans of rising infection rates and encourages mask use and social distancing. However, while those measures can help slow the spread, he has warned against letting them be the sole means of protection when it comes to considering a larger gathering for Thanksgiving and even admitted that he was taking precautions by not spending the holiday with his own daughters.

“That is unfortunately a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting,” Fauci said. It is unfortunate, because that’s such a sacred part of American tradition—the family gathering around Thanksgiving. But that is a risk.”

The CDC echoed Fauci’s concerns with their guidelines for the holiday season, and traditional events that draw large crowds, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, are going virtual to try and prevent the spread.

The United States currently stands at more than 8 million total COVID-19 infections reported and 218,000 deaths, with more than 70,000 new cases reported Friday, the largest increase since July. According to statistics from the New York Times, a total of 29 states continue to report high numbers of cases, while 16 other states are starting to report upticks.

In the past seven days, states that have seen high surges in percentages of cases have been North and South Dakota, which have seen more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents, with Montana, Wisconsin and Nebraska also reporting high numbers, with more than 300 cases per 100,000 residents. Currently, the only states that have seen less than 100 infections per 100,000 people (less than 0.001 percent), have been Vermont, Maine, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, California, Washington, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, Delaware, Georgia and Louisiana.

Fauci said the government would not make any future COVID-19 vaccine obligatory for the general public Fauci said the government would not make any future COVID-19 vaccine obligatory for the general public Photo: POOL / Al Drago

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Will Canceling Thanksgiving Cause A Mental Health Crisis? People May Feel Isolated, Lonely, Defeated


  • U.S. coronavirus infections are increasing by tens of thousands a day and the death toll is nearing 220,000
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans should “bite the bullet” and cancel this year’s gatherings
  • Mental health experts warn being deprived of Thanksgiving gatherings could increase feelings of loneliness and isolation

Last Thanksgiving people worried about how to prevent political blow-ups around the dinner table and whether the surly uncle would behave. In 2020, they’re worrying about whether to put on a Thanksgiving dinner at all with coronavirus cases increasing across the country.

Thanksgiving is Americans’ second favorite holiday behind Christmas. Unlike Christmas and Easter, there are no religious overtones. Unlike Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, it’s not associated with politics.

But this year, fears of infecting loved ones has would-be hosts worrying about what to do.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns the more people who are invited, the greater the risk of spreading the disease that has killed about 220,000 Americans since March – especially if those gatherings are held indoors. Infections have been rising by the tens of thousands a day.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, says people should just cancel the annual celebration.

“You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering, unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected,” he said in a CBS interview.

Taking that step, however, likely will be hard on a lot of people, psychologist Souzan Swift of Heal telemedicine practice told International Business Times.

“Family and friends look forward to coming together to celebrate so now that we are unable to do so, it’s going to leave a lot of people feeling more isolated and lonely,” Swift said. “It’s not just about the holiday but about coming together, socializing, connecting with our loved ones, and overall self-care. Having to cancel our plans and/or traditions takes a lot of that away and we are left feeling lonely and disconnected from the world we knew.”

Addiction Treatment Services at Phoenix Behavioral Health recommends hosting virtual events if in-person gatherings are off the table.

“Those who may have a mental health disorder will be able to maintain the connections they crave while also lowering their risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Olivia Feldman, project manager at Addiction Treatment Services, citing the increased danger of turning to drugs or alcohol to assuage the isolation and loneliness.

Swift said canceling Thanksgiving, and potentially other winter holidays, may leave people feeling discouraged and defeated. Adjusting to a “new normal” is tough, she said.

“Unfortunately, the merriment we crave — eating, drinking and singing together in a cozy room — are among the highest-risk scenarios for transmitting COVID-19,” M. Kit Delgado, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, told MarketWatch.

In his CBS interview, Fauci noted his children had canceled his family gathering “because of their concern for me and my age … even

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How to be safe indoors during Thanksgiving, Christmas, winter


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Officials have been able to control COVID-19 transmission rates by implementing policies that encourage residents to eat and drink, exercise and spend time with friends and loved ones at a safe distance outside. 

But health experts are concerned cases could spike again as cooler temperatures in the fall and winter force people back indoors. 

The nation’s leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci also is concerned upcoming holiday celebrations could increase transmission rates and advised Americans to skip any big Thanksgiving plans. 

Speaking to “CBS Evening News” Wednesday, Fauci cautioned against “gathering together in an indoor setting” with large groups of out-of-town guests. “It is unfortunate because that’s such a sacred part of American tradition – the family gathering around Thanksgiving,” he said. “But that is a risk.” 

Some experts suspect indoor transmission is what facilitated the summer surge of COVID-19 cases in southern states as residents retreated to public places with air conditioning to escape the heat. The three most populous states – California, Texas and Florida – each tallied more than 500,000 infections at the height of the surge in August, according to Johns Hopkins data.

“Indoors in public spaces is one of the places where the largest amounts of risk and transmission are likely to be happening,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology and a faculty member in the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamic at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

What makes congregating indoors so dangerous and how can you stay safe?

CDC updates guidelines (again): Notes risk of airborne transmission, says coronavirus can infect people more than 6 feet away


New York City reached a recovery milestone on Wednesday as indoor restaurant dining was permitted for the first time since March. (April 30)

AP Domestic

‘A minority of infections leads to the majority of transmission’

Dr. Lewis Nelson, professor and chair of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said one of the main reasons there’s a higher risk of transmission indoors than outdoors is lack of ventilation.

Natural air currents outside disperse virus particles more quickly and effectively than inside. There’s minimal to no air circulation indoors, allowing virus particles to linger in the air or fall on high-touch surfaces.

“If I were to smoke a cigarette (inside), you would see the smoke particles linger,” he said. “Whereas outdoors the smoke kind of leaves.”

Additionally, indoor public places have more surfaces. As respiratory droplets or aerosol particles fall, they land on table tops, chairs, door handles and other objects people frequently touch.

“Outdoors have less surfaces,” Nelson said. “Nobody is touching the ground and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.”

People also tend to be closer indoors because they’re confined by walls. Hanage said bars are a major source of transmission in communities because people tend to gather there for long periods of time as judgement

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Cases reach 8M in US; Fauci says Thanksgiving bad idea


Holidays are usually for gatherings but many get-togethers are complicated or canceled because of COVID-19.


The U.S. is now the only country to reach 8 million cases of the coronavirus — less than a month after reaching 7 million — amid a surge that has resulted in higher case counts in 41 states over the last week, according to a USA TODAY analysis.

Due to COVID-19 cases surging nationwide, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, cautioned against throwing large celebrations for Thanksgiving, calling it “a risk” to gather in indoor settings with people from out-of-town. His own family, he shared, is canceling plans.

And on Thursday, President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden talked coronavirus during dueling town halls.

On ABC, Biden said he would support making a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory. But, he acknowledged, that he can’t force people to get the vaccine when it’s available. Meanwhile, on NBC, Trump said he didn’t remember whether he tested negative the day of his debate against Biden on Sept. 29. 

Some significant developments:

  • The New England Patriots had to pause activities due to coronavirus concerns again. Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts reopened its facility after four positive tests had been re-run and returned negative.
  • A CDC report finds that indoor sports may be “super-spreader” events after one player infected 14 others at a Florida recreational indoor hockey game.
  • The effectiveness of remdesivir has been put into question after a massive World Health Organization study of more than 10,000 patients in 30 countries found ”little or no effect.”
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told the public to remain vigilant in an appearance Friday on ABC, his first since being released from the hospital for COVID-19.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canada-US border will stay closed until America gets control of the coronavirus outbreak.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8 million cases and 217,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data. There have been more than 38.9 million confirmed cases around the world and nearly 1.1 million deaths. A USA TODAY analysis found 14 states set records for new cases in a week while two states had a record number of deaths in a week. 

📰 What we’re reading:  The pandemic and the ensuing recession have taken a toll for students, but they hit particularly hard for community college students who already face many obstacles on their path to getting a degree. 

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.


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Every family should consider Thanksgiving ‘risk’ -Fauci [Video]

Fauci made the comments in a virtual fireside chat during Johns Hopkins University’s Health Policy Forum, pre-recorded on October 15 but aired on Friday, October 16.

“You can’t enter in the cool months of the fall and the cold months of the winter with a high community infection baseline,” said Fauci. He again warned of a greater risk of coronavirus transmission when there are indoor gatherings of people without masks on.

Wisconsin and other states in the U.S. Midwest and beyond are battling surges in COVID-19 cases, with new infections and hospitalizations rising to record levels in an ominous sign of a nationwide resurgence as temperatures get colder.

Nine states, including Michigan and North Carolina, reported record one-day increases of new infections on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally. Michigan last set a record for new daily cases on April 3 in the early days of the pandemic in the United States.

Video Transcript

ANTHONY FAUCI: –40 to 50,000. You can’t enter into the cool months of the fall and the cold months of the winter with a high community infection baseline. And looking at the map and seeing the heat map, how it lights up with test positivity that is in more than 30-plus states, is going in the wrong direction.

ELLEN MACKENZIE: I suspect many Thanksgivings are going to look a little bit different this year.

ANTHONY FAUCI: I think they will, Dean MacKenzie. I think people are going to have to make a choice of where they fit in the risk-benefit ratio of having someone come in maybe from out of town who’s been through a crowded airport to come into a home. Who do you have in the home? Are there vulnerable people? Are there the elderly? Are there people with underlying conditions? I think each family needs to think seriously about that and make a decision based on the level of risk that they want to put themselves through.


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