Thanksgiving 2020 in the Epoch of Pandemic and Quarantine, A Public Exploration
With the Thanksgiving holiday imminently arriving, marked increases of COVID-19 cases have rocketed throughout the country, prompting Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials to release updated guidelines for Thanksgiving gatherings in response. The overarching message of the direction is that people this Thanksgiving holiday “should celebrate virtually or only with the people you live with.”
City and state governments, as well, have implemented a variety of CDC-accordant restrictions, either punishing or barring large group gatherings and issuing stay-at-home advisories.
New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, for example, issued executive orders limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people ahead of Thanksgiving, and Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of Michigan, has similarly limited indoor gatherings to two households at most.
Despite the updated CDC guidelines and local government mandates a recent survey, conducted by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, found that 38% of U.S. residents are planning Thanksgiving gatherings of 10 people or more and 33% are not requiring friends or family to wear face masks during the holiday dinner. Moreover, 25% said they would not abide by social distancing guidelines, according to the survey.
Scriberr News asked local Los Angeles residents about their opinion on the updated CDC guidelines and consequent local government mandates and how these new restrictions would influence their plans for this year’s Thanksgiving holiday.
Luiz Alvarez, a 22-year-old music production student, told Scriberr News that his family wouldn’t congregate in large numbers this year, though he said he understood why some people would allow family traditions and gatherings to take precedence over government public health direction.
“Honestly, I’m just having dinner with the family that I live at home with. I don’t have a big family, so it’s not much of a difference to me,” Alvarez said.
“I understand why families with a large number might see it as a bad thing though; uniting as a family is important, despite the size.”
Alvarez added that though the pandemic has taken a great emotional toll on him, he felt grateful that he had friends and family to celebrate with, adding that he would be able to enter this Thanksgiving holiday with a positive spirit regardless.
“It’s been difficult for my family to find work outside of what they normally do. It’s fortunate that three out of five of us are working, but we are pressured to stay in the same job because of how difficult it is to find a new one. It affects our mental health, & the way that we live. On top of that, we’re more likely to get exposed to the virus for being essential workers,” Alvarez said.
“My family hasn’t been big in celebrating Thanksgiving, unfortunately. I’m usually the one to celebrate it and spend time with friends. I’ll always be grateful & optimistic [however] to those who are close to me.”
A college student and music artist, who wished to go by his stage name World Trader, told Scriberr News that though his family was eschewing a large gathering for the safety of his grandparents, he disliked the idea of government mandates interloping in his family’s personal affairs.
“I was hoping to go out this year for Thanksgiving but that was made impossible by the autocratic governor of California. This pandemic is a hoax, and no gathering should be minimized. My family decided to cancel Thanksgiving this year [however] because they worry about our grandparents as they are very vulnerable and old,” he said.
‘World Trader’ mentioned that despite the adverse ramifications of COVID-19, it should not radically disrupt “people’s business’ and [the] livelihoods that have thrived from capitalism,” expressing a shared viewpoint of many American working class communities regarding government mandated lockdowns.
“The pandemic has cut hours for me and my co-workers but it doesn’t bother my experience for this upcoming gathering,” ‘World Trader’ said.
‘World Trader’ said that he believed the Chinese Government was behind the creation and transmission of COVID-19, adding that the virus, in his perspective, was just like any other, “ [it]goes in and out of your body, [and] your immune system then develops the antibodies for [it].”
“No one deserves to live in a time like this,” ‘World Trader’ continued. “Where people’s businesses and livelihoods that have thrived from capitalism, all of a sudden crash and burn this year; that’s why we are finally starting to see protests against these new lockdowns,” he said.
“Hopefully my message is clear enough for any sensible person to read, and know why protesting [the shut-down] of [supposed] … non-essential jobs is very important, [given] that [these] jobs bring food to the table.”
Jacqueline Pabst, a professional violin teacher, when asked about how CDC guidelines and the consequent government-sanctioned restrictions would affect her this holiday, said she felt the new directions were “absolutely not too large of a sacrifice.”
Despite being somewhat crest-fallen about the situation, Pabst is going to celebrate the holiday alone, citing concern for the safety of her family.
“Basically I’m a little stranded this year which has been kind of sad but it’s not bad. Usually, Thanksgiving is a big affair for us so it’s been worrying not getting excited for it. [The rest of my family however,] … is fine [as my mom] will be with my brother, and my dad [will] … be with his girlfriend and her kids who love him … [these new guidelines however] are absolutely not too large of a sacrifice.”
Pabst mentioned that COVID-19 has caused her family a lot of stress, and personal anxiety about her own health. Pabst added, however, that she did feel a sense of overall optimism with regard to the upcoming holiday.
“There has been a lot of fighting and upset feelings because … my brother lied to me and my dad about contact tracing, twice actually, and I’m having trouble trusting him,” Pabst said.
“[I also] have adult-onset asthma [so] I’m worried about my lungs and [getting] COVID-19. I think this year [however] I will still be optimistic, plus my entire understanding of Thanksgiving has changed … I’ll be celebrating and grieving for indigenous peoples.”
Pabst said she felt that it’s important that everybody adheres to CDC guidelines this Thanksgiving holiday stating.
“Stay home and don’t socialize with anyone who you don’t live with, unless you’re outside with a mask on and six feet apart,” she said.
“Better a zoom thanksgiving than an ICU Christmas,” Pabst said, paraphrasing Former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.