Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Since mid-March, the world has been in lockdown due to the coronavirus. Schools and workplaces went virtual, travel stopped, and thousands were laid off to mitigate the highly contagious virus. Many countries stayed in full lockdown for months and are now back to normal due to a lack of cases, but in others, society returned to normal despite having the most cases worldwide. With the holiday season approaching, it is expected that the large gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas will be the next events that catalyze spikes in cases.
Coronavirus cases averaged around 20,000 cases per day nationwide until Memorial Day. In the following three weeks, the nation saw a large spike in the number of daily cases. Within two weeks of Memorial Day, states such as Texas and Arizona saw a 40% increase in cases and a record number of hospitalizations. On July 4, even as experts warned people not to partake in any large gatherings and firework displays were cancelled nationwide, many disregarded the warnings and carelessly met up to celebrate. There wasn’t sufficient data to assess the full impact of July 4th festivities, but there was a sharp increase in cases following the holiday.
Now, with coronavirus cases breaking single day case records daily, experts are worried that Thanksgiving and Christmas will add to the rising surge. Nearly 80,000 people were hospitalized this week alone, breaking the old record of 60,000 hospitalizations. “How people act over the coming weeks will have a profound impact.We’re at a point now, even pre-Thanksgiving, where we are surging beyond any level that we have seen over the last eight months,” Dr. Dr. Vivek Murthy, the co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, said.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a warning that the safest way to observe Thanksgiving was to celebrate with solely the people they live with. However, the CDC’s recommendation came on Nov. 19, long after people’s plans were made and flights were booked. Many officials and doctors are worried that the late warning will have no effect on those with booked plans as images of crowded airports across the nation have been increasingly prevalent.
After health officials and the CDC warned that people shouldn’t meet up for Thanksgiving or Christmas, there was an immediate media response from those on the right side of the political spectrum. Conservative claimed that liberals wanted to cancel these traditions for the fun of it. For example, in response to Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeting that traditional Thanksgiving plans should be cancelled, Simone Gold tweeted “We will not cancel Thanksgiving. We will not cancel Christmas. We will not cancel family. But we will cancel lockdowns.”
Coronavirus spikes due to holiday gatherings have not just been relegated to the United States. On Nov. 14, India celebrated one of its largest festivals, Diwali, while battling the second-largest spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the world. Diwali posed two threats: worsened air quality and increased social gatherings as many parts of the country allowed gatherings with up to 200 people. Experts warned that the poor air quality could put those with pre-existing health conditions at a higher risk to be infected. “I won’t be surprised if cases rise across India,” Founder and Managing Trustee of non-profit Lung Care Foundation Arvind Kumar said when asked about marketplaces thriving with shoppers ahead of Diwali.
Unfortunately, however, figuring out the exact effect Diwali had on the number of coronavirus cases in India will take a bit of time, due to the lack of Coronavirus tests and the fact that it takes at up to two weeks to show symptoms.
Moreover, Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving on Oct. 12, and in the subsequent two weeks after the holiday, they saw a large increase in cases. Originally, Canada was one of the best countries at handling the pandemic, but cases spiked in early September and it only continues to grow. Exactly two weeks after Canadian Thanksgiving, the country saw a total of 222,900 cases in comparison to 185,300 cases on American Thanksgiving day. Many believe that Canada’s numbers should serve as a warning to the United States. “Even without the data from Canada, this is a warning. We have reason to worry about Thanksgiving in the U.S. just on the principles of it.” epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo told MSNBC.
Through Teen Lenses: Do you believe that the number of cases will exponentially rise after the holiday’s? How did you plan on celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas this year?
I believe that covid cases will rise after the holiday’s. Therefore, this year we are planning to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with our loved ones at home to be safe. Abhijna Yeruva, 15, Chantilly HS, Chantilly, VA
My family and I celebrated Thanksgiving with a few close friends. It was an outside gathering with only two other families and I met with a few of my friends the day before Thanksgiving for a Friendsgiving. However, for Christmas, we will not be celebrating with others because my grandparents will be coming from India and we don’t want to put them at risk. I do believe that the number of cases will rise, but not by more than it has already been rising. I trust that people will be safe and take proper precautions. Natasha Paul, 17, Heritage HS, Fort Worth, TX
The cases will definitely be rising, like how it did for all the other holidays. My family and I do not celebrate Thanksgiving because it does not align with our beliefs. We instead made the choice to rent out a cabin in West Virginia and stay there for the long weekend. For Christmas, my friends and I are quarantining for two weeks before meeting up for a secret santa. My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas either, so we will be pretty safe. Rhea Patel, 15, Poolesville HS, Poolesville, Maryland