From Halloween to Thanksgiving, COVID-19 is changing the ways in which people gather with family and celebrate the holidays

By Isabel Sinnott

A&E Editor

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Since March, the world has been very different than we are used to. Now that we’re moving into the fall months, and fall holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving are here, there is another issue to consider. Social distancing has been difficult for people throughout the spring and summer, but holidays like Thanksgiving generally lead to large group gatherings. Can this be done safely this year?

Dr. Anthony Fauci has come out to discuss this, saying that small groups could gather this year, but there would need to be precautions in place in order to make it safe.

Some of the precautions that he advised include Covid testing for all members of a family, as well as wearing masks throughout the time that everyone is together. It could still be a health risk as people could get infected after testing negative, so people have to consider the risks for the members of their family regarding whether they are in a higher risk group or not.

Covid cases in Maryland have been climbing since September. They hit a low of 336, but recently, as of November 19, have reached heights of 2888 cases. There was an especially high spike right after Halloween, climbing from 731 to 1034 cases at the beginning of November, implying that perhaps Halloween celebrations could have resulted in a higher spread of the disease. 

It was recommended not to go out trick-or-treating this year, and though many still did, there were less than usual in the area. Most people also took precautions through wearing masks and leaving candy in individual bags to reduce contact. 

Sophomore Julia Steinberg went trick or treating this year, and said that, “I did have some concerns, but pretty much everyone was wearing masks, and most people were handing out candy bags over tables or put out unmanned candy bowls. We didn’t do any door-knocking this year.”

This higher number of cases in Maryland could mean that gathering for Thanksgiving could be unsafe for many families, due to the higher risk factor. Julia Steinberg stated that she believes that, “People can meet you outside with a mask and stay fairly safe. However, I think virtual is best for large groups from different regions.”

 Riley DeLeeuw had a similar opinion, stating that some ways for people to celebrate this Thanksgiving could include “[having an] online viewing party, playing games online, and socially distant activities…Activities don’t need to be virtual to be safe”.

While both Steinberg and DeLeeuw stated that they do not have plans with extended family this year even though they generally travel or meet up with family, Ana Coman’s family are gathering for a small celebration this year. She stated that, “My sister and her fiancé are coming here. They’re getting tested before they come to make sure that they don’t bring Covid, and then they’re probably going to get tested when they get here as well.” 

Fauci stated that small groups should be able to gather as long as they are tested for the virus, so having only two people attend the family gathering should remain safe for everyone present.

Coman also said that, “I think as long as there is a lot of testing and ensuring that masks are worn in public, the holidays should be fine with a very limited amount of people,” a sentiment that Fauci has said as well regarding the holidays.

Deciding whether to have a family celebration this year will depend greatly on the situation that your family is in, although precautions will have to be taken no matter what to ensure everyone’s safety. If your family has members in higher risk groups, keeping Thanksgiving virtual this year could be the safer path to take to keep everyone healthy in the hopes that next year everyone can gather together without any worry.