‘We all have a part to play’ in slowing the spread of COVID-19 this Thanksgiving

Serena Zuniga, Multimedia Editor

You can’t go outside today without seeing the effects of COVID-19 all around us. Over two million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 over the last two weeks and places of worship, dining areas and parking structures are being converted to medical infrastructure to treat patients where hospitals are overwhelmed.

As the holiday season approaches, there seems to be an overwhelming amount of confusion and misinformation about how to ensure your loved ones will be safe.

The most obvious way to not spread COVID is to not gather at all, but the thought of not being with family after such a horrific year is troubling.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people you live with. Gathering with people who do not live with you can increase your chances of contracting or unknowingly spreading COVID-19 or the flu.

The CDC also suggests that families should consider celebrating virtually with others who do not live with them. Zoom is providing free meetings on Thanksgiving Day and lifting the 40 minute call limit for users with the free version of the platform.

Not being able to gather with people who are not in your immediate family can be extremely disappointing during the holidays, especially since it’s considered a tradition in many households. However, the health and safety of others must be prioritized.

Families who choose to celebrate together have many factors to consider to ensure their gathering is the safest it can be.

According to the CDC, when considering a small Thanksgiving gathering, people should evaluate:

  • the level of community spread of COVID-19 where they live
  • where they’ve traveled
  • the location of the gathering
  • the duration of gathering
  • the behavior of attendees
  • the number of people present.

It’s also recommended that attendees avoid direct contact, stay outside and wear masks.

According to a Nov. 24 article by the Mayo Clinic, “when you’re outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you’re less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected.”

If you do not consider the factors that could put you and your loved ones at risk, all of society will feel the impact.

Ryan Kolter, coordinator of Recreational Sports and Wellness at California Lutheran University, said the effects of COVID-19 will remain in our society and bodies if guidelines are not properly followed this holiday season. 

“There’s so much we don’t know about this virus, right,” Kolter said in a Zoom interview. “So there’s all of that you’re going to see those numbers increased to a greater degree, and it’s going to stick around with us longer, it’s going to overwhelm our hospital systems. And that’s going to have societal impacts, state and federal governments are going to need to impose more measures to clamp down on this. And that’s going to restrict the economy, that’s going to put more people’s livelihoods and jobs at risk.”

Despite the risks, many yearn to continue with holidays as they would any other year. Some families have decided to alter their plans to make the holiday season as safe as possible.

Devin Romines, a senior at Cal Lutheran and president of biological honors society Beta Beta Beta, said he thinks having some form of social interaction this Thanksgiving is better than nothing.

“The pandemic has taken so much from us and I feel like now more than ever it is important to spend Thanksgiving together with loved ones,” Romines said. “Yes, there are risks. But risks can be mitigated if we take enough safety measures.”

I believe that we should all feel morally obligated to protect each other as a society. By doing this, we sacrifice a little now to gain so much more later.

Those who choose not to practice precautionary behavior should take responsibility for anyone contracting the virus due to their actions. We all have a responsibility to each other to help put an end to this pandemic.

“We all have a part to play in this, in either perpetuating the infection, or stopping it,” Kolter said. “Everything we do either helps or hurts the efforts to get over this.”

The CDC has clear guidelines to help prepare families with ways to safely celebrate Thanksgiving in this unprecedented time.

The virus is still very much among us, so there has never been a more important time to put our pride aside and do what we can to make this unconventional Thanksgiving memorable.