COVID-19 has complicated Thanksgiving plans for many families this year. Dr. Anthony Fauci himself has said that he will not be attending his typical Thanksgiving family dinner and advises others to follow suit. With the winter coming and cases across the United States surging, people all across the world are being forced to make difficult decisions about their Thanksgiving plans. For many, being together around the holidays is of the utmost importance. But this year, the fear of contributing to COVID-19 outbreaks has shifted their priorities.
Here in New Hampshire, Governor Chris Sununu has emphasized that the virus doesn’t discriminate. “The virus doesn’t care that it’s Uncle Bob, but you should and you need to,” said Sununu when discussing the caution that must be taken even when gathering with close family. He has also encouraged people to stay vigilant about social distancing and wearing masks if they do choose to get together for Thanksgiving.
According to WMUR, Governor Sununu has also talked about the importance of quarantining if you choose to go out of state for the holiday. For most people, fourteen days is the amount of time necessary to make sure you don’t spread the virus. But for those who produce a negative COVID-19 test after returning to New Hampshire, they can break quarantine after just seven days. With that being said, exemptions are still made for essential travel such as going to work or school, which prevents the risk of transmission from being completely eradicated. This all comes after New Hampshire announced a record 323 new cases on November 12th, which also marks the first time new cases have topped 300 in a single day. The following day, the state announced over 400 new cases. It makes people’s holiday plans all the more crucial to stopping the spread.
Bob White and Mo White, Hopkinton residents and owners of Duston Country Club, have made the decision not to host a large Thanksgiving dinner this year. Instead of having 35 people, a standard number for their annual Thanksgiving feast, they have cut it down to just six people who are all close family members. This was a tough decision to make, as it breaks a tradition of over 30 years that they been hosting large Thanksgiving dinners, which includes a long-drive competition at their golf course.
In addition, they had to cancel an end of the year party they hoped to have for their employees. Bob said that this was a difficult decision as well, adding that “we would feel terrible if someone contracted it at the party. We were looking forward to it so much.” The golf course was fortunate enough to get through the entire season without any COVID-19 related issues, so it’s understandable why the Whites wouldn’t want to push their luck. Mo said that she isn’t as worried about the employees themselves, as they have been in contact with each other for most of the golf season. However, the addition of spouses and significant others, coupled with a spike in recent COVID-19 cases, were the biggest factors in the decision to cancel.
Terri Forsten, a Concord resident, has also made the decision to cancel traditional Thanksgiving festivities. She typically hosts between 15 and 20 people at her home. In a cancellation email sent to family, she says that “after watching the lousy COVID numbers rising and knowing that we have a couple of college kiddos traveling home from states outside of New England, and listening to advice about holiday gatherings, we have decided that we will not be hosting Thanksgiving this year.” This is something that many families of college students are dealing with. Her son, Erik, is returning from Pennsylvania, while her nephew, Marcus, will be coming home from South Carolina. Neither of these two will be able to quarantine for the necessary amount of time before Thanksgiving, which makes the risk of COVID-19 transmission higher. With these things in mind, she made the safe choice and called off this year’s Thanksgiving plans.
Here at New England College, students are experiencing difficulties navigating their Thanksgiving plans as well. Rachel Senechal, a senior Communication Studies major, says that returning to Connecticut adds another set of obstacles that she has to deal with. Senechal says that the state of Connecticut currently has a strict 14-day quarantine period upon return, but the quarantine can be avoided if a negative test result is produced within 72 hours before returning to the state. If you do not abide by these two rules, she says “there could be a hefty fine.”
She is also nervous about bringing the virus home to her family in Connecticut. She feels this way despite being tested multiple times by New England College, as “the chances are still there and not all tests are going to be completely accurate.” The school’s final test of the semester was conducted on November 6th. During this final testing period, any student who wanted to be tested before the break could do so. However, this still leaves a two week gap before students actually leave to go home on break, which drew criticism from Senechal. “NEC is not testing the week of break, so it does not make me feel better. I must go out of my way to get tested now. I think the school should’ve had all students tested the week before getting sent home.”
These examples make it clear that each family’s Thanksgiving situations are unique, but nearly all of them will be different than previous years. No matter what you choose to do for Thanksgiving, it’s most important that everyone stays vigilant and keeps each other safe.