WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — As the holidays grow closer, health officials and political leaders are urging people to be cautious and reconsider travel and gathering plans amid surging coronavirus cases.
In a guest column published in The Times Record, Maine Independent Sen. Angus King joined in that chorus, saying this Thanksgiving, staying apart is “an act of love.”
King shared that he and his wife are foregoing a traditional Thanksgiving celebration, and instead will gather virtually over the holiday, following the guidance of health officials to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“Bottom line: this Thursday isn’t about food; it’s about family – which means making hard choices to look after those we care about,” King wrote.
Last week, the U.S. CDC released guidance on traveling ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. In a press conference, agency officials said traveling could increase someone's chances of getting or spreading COVID-19. Officials with the CDC urged that its guidance is strongly recommended, but not enforced.
“We understand that people want to see their family and relatives and do it as they’ve always done it. But this year we’re asking them to limit their travel," CDC's Dr. Henry Walke said in the briefing.
Last week, more than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in just seven days. In Maine, single-day cases have been consistently near 200 or more cases a day over the past week.
“It may be the understatement of the year to say we’ve had a tough go of it in 2020,” King said. “With that comes the natural inclination to ease up as we enter the holiday season. Now, though, would be the worst time to let your guard down when it comes to some very basic safeguards.”
During a coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills also urged Mainers to re-think their travel and gathering plans.
“Maine people need to ask themselves, ‘Do I have to take this trip?’ If the answer is honestly ‘no,’ don’t go,” she said.
“The holiday won’t be the same, but we’ll make the best of it. Mary and I will enjoy a kitchen table-sized Thanksgiving spread, and we’ll spend large chunks of the day on FaceTime with our children and grandchildren. For the sake of your loved ones, I’d urge Mainers to do the same – limit your Thanksgiving meal crowd, and connect with loved ones virtually instead. This virus can hinder our ability to gather, but it can’t prevent us from recognizing the things we’re grateful for,” King said.
“This year, we will stay distanced in an act of love – so that one day soon, we can safely come together again and make new memories that will last for years to come.”