Today is Thanksgiving in the US and Covid-19 is tightening its grip on the nation as infections and deaths spike.
More than 2,100 Covid-19-related deaths were reported on Tuesday, the highest number for a single day number since May. Nearly 90,000 patients are hospitalised, the highest number since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Despite these skyrocketing statistics, millions of Americans are travelling home for a traditional Thanksgiving with family and friends, just as they always do.
The chance for grandparents to cuddle rarely seen grandkids and for the family generations to gather around a laden table to feast on a giant roast turkey is just too much for faraway young families to resist.
They are packing onto planes at every airport in the nation, ignoring guidance from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which is pleading with Americans not to go home this year.
The US could see an explosion of Covid-19 infections in the weeks following Thanksgiving, Dr Jonathan Reiner, a former White House medical team adviser, told CNN. “It’s potentially the mother of all superspreader events.”
Americans have been clamouring for Covid-19 tests before they travel, but Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said during a press conference on Tuesday, “Don’t bother, because a test isn’t necessarily a good way to gauge whether you are fine to travel, unless you test positive, which means stay home.”
Giroir told CNN, “What I want people to understand is that a test that’s negative today doesn’t mean you’re going to be negative tomorrow or the next day. That negative test is not a free pass to do risky behaviour.”
However, plenty of other Americans are heeding the advice to stay home, resulting in demand for small turkeys hitting the roof.
The Pentagon has sent over 23,000kg of roast turkey to American troops stationed on US military installations around the world so all personnel will be able to have a taste of Thanksgiving.
“The holidays will look quite different this year for everyone,” Brigadier General Gavin Lawrence told NBC. “We are doing everything possible to make sure our warfighters get a proper holiday meal since many of us will not be able to be with our family and friends. We want to make sure they get that taste of home no matter where they are in the world.”