By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on November 20, 2020
In the wake of CDC recommendations that people avoid travel and celebrate Thanksgiving with those they live with, state and local health officials offered similar holiday advice with COVID-19 cases spiking almost everywhere in North Carolina and around the country.
On the day that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) reported 3,688 new cases and the highest number of COVID ICU patients (415) since the outset of the pandemic, NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen cited the CDC’s recommendations against travel.
“Ideally, we would be having Thanksgiving just with the folks we live with in our home,” said Cohen at a Nov. 20 briefing. But acknowledging the holiday tradition of celebrating with loved ones, she offered advice for those planning to gather with others besides those under their own roof.
Those recommendations are: Keep the gathering small; hold the event outdoors even if it means warmer clothing and fire pits; wear a mask all the time; and consider getting a COVID-19 test before attending any celebration. As a personal note, Cohen said that this would be the first Thanksgiving when she won’t be traveling to celebrate with her family.
The Dare County Department of Health and Human Services (DCDHHS) reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20, with 10 of them affecting residents of the county and two involving not-residents. On Nov. 20, the DCDHHS also issued an update that mirrored Cohen’s advice about Thanksgiving.
“The best way to reduce your risk of viral transmission is to limit travel during the holidays and limit physical contact with people who do not live in your household,” it said.
“If you are traveling and/or are planning to be with family members you do not live with during the holidays, consider having a COVID-19 screening test prior to travel or attending family gatherings. Be sure to get tested early enough to allow for your results to come in prior to the gathering,” the update continued. “Even if you have a negative test, you should wear a mask, physically distance, avoid crowds and indoor crowded places, wash your hands frequently, monitor yourself for symptoms, and minimize contact with people at high risk of complications of COVID-19.”
Concerns about spreading COVID during Thanksgiving are even affecting the marketing of the OBX as a holiday destination. Promotional materials from the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau sent out before the CDC recommendations touted the area as a place to gather “the entire gang” for Thanksgiving.
But in response to a Voice question about that message, Visitors Bureau Executive Director Lee Nettles emailed that, “The CDC’s announcement, while sudden, makes a lot of sense and we certainly want everyone to be safe, too. Because our promotions were developed and scheduled in advance of the announcement, unfortunately, the email launched before we realized the conflicting message. Our agencies have been notified to pull any and all further Thanksgiving messaging.”
Note: Every morning, the NC Department of Health and Human Services posts updates the number of reported cases of coronavirus. That number reflects positive results from all tests, including the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and all hospital and commercial labs. There may be other reports, from the media and elsewhere, that will include different numbers during a given day, but this is an effective way of tracking numbers from the same source on a day-to-day basis.
SOURCE: NC DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES