How the Pandemic affected this Holiday Season

Nathalie Leung

Was Thanksgiving a superspreading event? (based on Canada’s Thanksgiving)

Three weeks after Canadians celebrated their Thanksgiving holiday, the country saw a national spike in cases, in which Canada’s top doctors stated that the holiday was partly to blame. The U.S. may want to rethink making plans for upcoming holidays as they may experience the same outcome.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, warned that coronavirus precautions will result in a very different kind of Thanksgiving for many people this year, himself included.

“It is unfortunate, because that’s such a sacred part of the American tradition, the family gathering around Thanksgiving, but that is a risk,” Fauci said in an interview with CBS in October. “You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering, unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected,” Fauci said. “Either they’ve been very recently tested, or they’re living a lifestyle in which they don’t have any interaction with anybody except you and your family.”

Canadian political leaders in virus hotspots have closed dine in eating, gyms, theaters, and restricted large social gatherings. However, according to the country’s medical experts, family gatherings and house parties are still fueling new Covid-19 cases, straining hospitals and increasing deaths.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer, warned that infection rates in the city are going in the wrong direction, and that Thanksgiving gatherings are a part of the problem.

“It is clearly challenging to wear a mask while you’re trying to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner or a meal with friends and family,” Villa said. “These are the kinds of circumstances that give rise to virus transmission, to virus spread and that actually perpetuate the infection throughout our city.”

Christmas gatherings this coming holiday season might be off the table given rising infections.

Student Response

A Google Forms survey was sent out to HW students asking about their experiences with celebrating Thanksgiving during the pandemic.

The majority of around 78% of students said that they didn’t travel over the week of Thanksgiving break, with around 16% saying they did and the rest detailing how they still celebrated without travelling and with the pandemic’s restrictions. According to responses, some of these celebrations took place at student’s homes, whether it be facetime over dinner or having a few closer relatives and friends come over. Some students stated that they stayed over a relative’s house during the week, a few even saying that they got tested for COVID-19 before and after visiting and isolated themselves.

Overall in response to how the pandemic has affected student’s holiday plans, most students said that they didn’t get to see as much family as they usually could have or not at all with travel and other restrictions brought by the pandemic. Most students said that they did socially distance and take precautions when visiting and celebrating with others.

Even though it was unfortunate that holidays couldn’t be celebrated fully as normal and several students were frustrated that they weren’t able to travel, other students commented that they enjoyed having a low-key holiday break and that staying home was relaxing.