Here's Who Will Cause a COVID Surge This Month, Experts Say
"There's a responsibility not to unleash little ticking time bombs," one doctor warned.
The arrival of the holiday season is usually one of the most joyful times of year. But as the United States surpasses its 10 millionth coronavirus case and continues to see numbers surge from coast to coast, many are coming to terms with the fact that bringing together friends and family may not be so simple or joyous this year. In fact, many experts are saying that they expect college students returning home from living on campus to cause a major coronavirus surge this month. Read on to find out what this could mean for your Thanksgiving plans, and for more on which places are already taking action to slow the spread of COVID, check out These States Are Starting to Lock Down Again.
While Thanksgiving traditionally sees a large migration of college students returning home to celebrate the holiday, 2020 has presented a unique challenge in the danger that hundreds of thousands of young people pose simply by traveling home while potentially infectious with coronavirus, The New York Times reports. In an attempt to lower the risk of spreading the disease, colleges across the country have begun to devise protocols that would help students keep themselves and their families safe before heading home—but without a cohesive approach nationwide, many question how effective those efforts will actually be.
Many schools that have grappled with high infection rates, such as the University of Michigan, are instituting mandatory testing before allowing students who live on campus to leave, as well as offering free voluntary testing for any other students living off-campus. But other large schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania, are stopping short of requiring tests, only strongly encouraging students to take advantage of the free testing before they return home.
Experts point out that elective screening methods will likely fall short as many asymptomatic students will leave campus without feeling the need to be tested while still being contagious. “There’s a responsibility not to unleash little ticking time bombs,” A. David Paltiel, MD, a professor of health policy and management at the Yale School of Public Health, told The New York Times. “But this has not yet hit the radar screen of many college administrators.”
Meanwhile, some schools have held out hope that students would use their best judgment in seeking COVID tests, required or not. “I would rather give people as much information as possible and trust that they’re going to make a decision that’s best for them and their families instead of putting down rules that could be broken,” Erika Cheng, deputy director for mitigation testing for Indiana University, told The Times. “We can’t force anybody to do anything.”
Even though it may be more difficult to celebrate the holidays this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came up with a few recommendations on how to stay safe. Read on to see what they are, and for more on other places that put you at risk, check out Going Here Every Day Doubles Your Chances of Catching COVID, CDC Says.
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Don't mix households indoors.
It may be hard to imagine Thanksgiving without a cozy dining room table covered in delicious food and surrounded by loved ones. But according to the CDC, staying safe this year will mean avoiding any large indoor gatherings with people you don't already live with. Instead, try setting up a way to enjoy the meal together virtually via video chat and keep the in-person headcount low by feasting with your immediate household only. And for more on who's putting you at risk of getting sick, know that If You Live With Someone This Age, You're More Likely to Get COVID.
Don't run in or watch a race.
Your local turkey trot may be one of the healthiest traditions you observe each Thanksgiving, but according to the CDC, this will not be the year to lace up. They suggest not participating or attending any races to help lower the risk of spreading COVID. And for more up-to-date information on the coronavirus, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Don't shop Black Friday sales in-person.
Even if taking part in door-buster Black Friday sales is a favorite family past time, you should probably sit them out this year. The CDC says that the crowds generated by those in search of the best deals presents a high risk for spreading COVID-19. The good news? You can search for most of the best deals online while safely seated on your couch this year anyway. And for some ideas on what to buy, check out Oprah's Favorite Things of 2020 Under $50.
Don't drink too much.
There's nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of wine to toast all you're thankful for this year. But the CDC also warns that excessive drinking can lead you to let your guard down and become uninhibited, making it more likely that you'll engage in risky behavior that could spread COVID. This year, make sure you keep your wits about you to keep yourself and your loved ones stay safe. And for more on risky behavior, be aware that Lacking This Vitamin Is Putting You at Severe COVID Risk, Study Says.
Don't attend a parade.
Just like local races, many families have a tradition of turning out as spectators for local town or city parades. But this year the CDC suggests that people do not crowd the streets or take part in any local parades. If your heart is set on seeing floats, you're in luck: the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be still be held, but on TV only. And for places that are racing against surging coronavirus numbers, check out This State Just Completely Changed Its Stance on Masks.