**Reported in early December 2020**
The number of positive COVID-19 cases has started to spike again, following many health experts and government officials’ warnings that family gatherings would lead to an outbreak.
In a press conference on Nov. 25, Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted that the majority of new positive cases were coming from small home gatherings, not schools, restaurants, bars or gyms.
Cuomo pleaded with New Yorkers to skip the normal Thanksgiving celebrations and stick to celebrating within your household, warning that Thanksgiving would be an “added accelerant.”
“This is not a normal Thanksgiving, and to act like it’s a normal Thanksgiving is to deny the reality of every health expert in the nation, Democrat or Republican,” Cuomo said.
Even before Thanksgiving, the number of positive cases and COVID deaths had increased. On Nov. 25, there were 41 COVID-related deaths in New York. Cuomo predicted the spike in numbers would be expected 10 days after the Thanksgiving holiday.
His predictions were right. On Thanksgiving Day, New York’s positivity rate was at 3.7%. As of Dec. 5, the positivity rate in New York rose to 4.7%, while the nationwide positivity rate rose to 7.12% from 6.83% on Thanksgiving.
While many Americans followed officials’ regulations, there were still many that ignored precautions, traveled to see family and hosted large gatherings.
Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokesperson, reported that TSA screened over one million people the day before Thanksgiving which was it’s, “highest volume since March 16 and only the fourth time passenger throughput has topped one million since that date.”
“The more social activity, the more the infection rate goes up,” Cuomo continued. “We know that. What was the point of the closedown? The point of the closedown was to reduce the social activity, reduce the spread. What’s the inverse of the closedown? Thanksgiving holiday.”
The best way to combat a rise in COVID-19 numbers following Thanksgiving, Cuomo says, is to make a plan to distribute and administer the vaccine in the coming winter months while keeping schools open.
The vaccine is not a holy grail solution, however, and it will still be many more months before enough people are vaccinated properly to make an impact.
“I guarantee you, it will be months and months before we distribute enough vaccines to actually solve the COVID problem,” Cuomo said. “With everyone doing everything they can, in nine months the nation administered 180 million COVID tests. Nationwide, 180. To do vaccinations, you have to do 330 million vaccinations. And you have to do them twice. Twice. If it took you nine months to do 180 million COVID tests, how long is it going to take you to do 330 million vaccinations? You do the math. But it’s not an easy process at all.”
In the months between now and vaccination, health officials agree it is important to continue wearing masks, limiting indoor gatherings (even if it’s just a couple people from outside your household), and staying home when you are experiencing any symptoms.
It might be tough to continue these safety measures during the winter months, but if it’s what it takes to get us by before we can all get a vaccine, it’s an inconvenience that is worth taking.