Thanksgiving 2020: Health officials warn of COVID-19 spread during holiday gatherings

Sunday, November 22, 2020
Health officials warn of COVID-19 spread during Thanksgiving holiday gatherings
Health officials warn against Thanksgiving gatherings because COVID-19 doesn't take a break for the holidays.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- This is a time of year when people gather with family and friends for holiday celebrations, but health officials say this is not the time to do so because COVID-19 doesn't take a break for the holidays.

With what is traditionally one of the busiest travel days of the year coming up, Illinois' top doctor, Ngozi Ezike, is warning people to stay at home for Thanksgiving.

"If we love grandma there's no better way to say that than to stay put and give her our best love and attention virtually. We have to say 'no' to super spreader events by moving around and gathering in groups," Dr. Ezike said.

RELATED: CDC updates Thanksgiving guidance, recommends that Americans do not travel

The agency recommends that Americans celebrate the holiday at home with the people they live with.

This, as the state is facing an alarming number of daily COVID-19 cases and a shortage of ICU beds.

Dr. Ezike pointing out that more restrictions could be on the way if the trend continues.

"If we continue to see capacity in our hospitals have been diminished; and we continue to see the health care workforce, themselves, falling ill or being under quarantine such that we don't have enough manpower [and] woman power in the hospital - all of these will get us to a full stay at home order," she said.

If you are planning to still gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving despite calls from health officials for virtual gatherings instead, doctors urge you to take some precautions.

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"You gotta wear a mask," said Dr. Jay Bhatt with Medical Home Network. "You got to distance more than six feet, and even crack the windows open so you get good ventilation in the room you're at."

However, Dr. Bhatt emphasized that the best protection from this deadly virus is to stay at home.

"You can't eat and wear masks at the same time so that's a problem. And during the holidays, you may be singing, speaking loudly and jubilation, and maybe even hugging someone. That's a recipe for disaster for spread more cases and death," he said.

Dr. Bhatt said getting a negative COVID-19 test before a gathering gives people a false sense of security. You can be negative one day and positive the next.