People infected with COVID-19 at Thanksgiving could enter 'the morgue around Christmas'

Peter Weber

The sharp rise in U.S. COVID-19 infections — a million new cases in just six days, a seven-day average of 1,120 new deaths a day — prompted the governors of Michigan and Washington to announce new restrictions Sunday.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) enacted a three-week ban on in-person classes at high schools and colleges, closed indoor dining at restaurants, suspended organized sports, and limited private gatherings. "The situation has never been more dire," she said, adding that Michigan is "at the precipice" and could soon see 1,000 COVID-19 deaths per week. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) limited capacity at retail stores and grocers, and closed gyms and indoor restaurant service for a month. And it isn't just Democrats implementing new restrictions. In North Dakota, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) ordered a statewide mask mandate over the weekend, joining 35 other states, and imposed restrictions on businesses.

The new guidelines also limit indoor gatherings through November, as public health officials urge Americans to rethink their Thanksgiving travel plans. It may be hard not to see family at Thanksgiving, but given the "roughly 12-day lag between rising cases rising hospitalizations," Thanksgiving infections might make for a very blue Christmas, science reporter Ed Yong explains.

This is more than a theoretical possibility. This is what happened after Canada celebrated its Thanksgiving on Oct. 11:

"The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. But if you are going to celebrate with outside family or friends, they have suggestions for that, too.

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