Thanksgiving is a time for Americans to gather with the ones they love to give thanks for everything God has blessed us with. But this year, health officials are ratcheting up their warnings once again, telling Americans to just cancel one of the central parts of this holiday.
A rise in COVID-19 cases and warnings from the Centers for Disease Control has already convinced many Americans to cancel their Thanksgiving travel plans this year.
"Exponential growth in cases, and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another, leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time," said CDC incident manager Henry Walke.
According to a new Axios-Ipsos poll, 61 percent of Americans say they've changed their holiday plans because of the coronavirus.
Nearly two-thirds of the people interviewed said that joining family or friends this Thanksgiving would present a large or moderate threat, while three-fourths said traveling raises a large or moderate threat.
"They can see the concreteness of a vaccine on the horizon," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos US Public Affairs. "They understand the current reality is complicated, and they're self-quarantining for Thanksgiving."
And it appears that some Americans are following the direction of health officials to stay home for the sake of higher-risk family members.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports that it's still screened more than 3 million people at the nation's airports in recent days. But that's less than half the number of people who flew at this time last year.
California's health secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, is very blunt with his warning, telling residents to say no to family and just cancel their plans with their loved ones.
“It’s as important to say no even when it comes to the closest people in our family,” said Ghaly, who upended his own Thanksgiving Day agenda. "Game time decisions happen all the time...Call that audible, make a decision to do something a little different.”
However, California's governor, despite his own harsh COVID restrictions and warnings, didn't heed any of this advice recently when he gathered with nearly two dozen loved ones for a birthday celebration.
Critics of the crackdown in Democratic-run cities and states are highlighting the hypocrisy:
Was it a $12,000 wine bill or $15,000 wine bill? Who knows. But when you party with 22 ppl, you could end up exposing your kids to COVID. Way to go, Governor. https://t.co/KkVJ8QzQQA
— Jennifer Van Laar (@jenvanlaar) November 24, 2020
CA Gov Newsom bans gatherings of 10+ people... but attends party with dozens of people.
Mayor Lightfoot locks down Chicago again... but celebrates Biden with crowds in streets.
Pelosi hosts giant reception... while you’re not allowed.
Are people really ok with this hypocrisy?!
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) November 14, 2020
Still, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is urging Americans to use their better judgment so everyone can stay safe. "I'm begging you, hold on just a little bit longer. Keep Thanksgiving and the celebrations small and smart this year."
And registered nurse Nick Klein put it in the starkest of terms, saying, "We definitely do not want to see Thanksgiving family get-togethers be Christmas family funerals."
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca is the third drug-maker to announce its COVID vaccine is showing promising results with nearly 90 percent effectiveness.
Pfizer filed its FDA application for emergency-use authorization on Friday for its vaccine and Moderna is expected to follow soon. And the CDC director expects vaccine doses to start becoming available before Christmas.
The chief scientific advisor for Operation Warp Speed agrees that the first vaccinations could come by mid-December.
"With the level of efficacy we have, 95 percent - 70 percent of the population being immunized - would allow for try-herd immunity to take place with herd immunity by May," said Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief science adviser for Operation Warp Speed.
The thought of not seeing friends and relatives sounds dismal, however health officials maintain it's for the greater good. "The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household," said Erin Sauber-Schatz with the CDC.
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