With COVID-19 cases on the rise, Central District Health Department officials are encouraging people to gather around the computer, rather than the dinner table this Thanksgiving.
According to the district's COVID-19 dashboard, from Nov. 15 to Nov. 20, there were 459 new cases — 1,320 in the past 14 days. As of Monday, there are 13 staffed ICU beds in Grand Island with only one available. There are 62 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 with seven of them on a ventilator.
CDHD Health Director Teresa Anderson said that with the increase in positive COVID-19 cases, the health department is encouraging people not to travel for Thanksgiving and to celebrate the holiday with only people in their own household.
“This is difficult,” she said. “People are used to getting together with friends and family. But this year, we just need to look at it a little differently in that we are showing our love and respect for each other by not traveling, not getting together and using FaceTime or Zoom to communicate together, but separately.
“We are advising people to stay home this year. The worst of the pandemic — or the worst of this surge — is in the next few weeks and we’ve got to do our best to reduce the spread so that we do not overwhelm the hospitals and our entire health care system.”
While it is too late to do so for Thanksgiving, Anderson said that those who must travel for the holidays are encouraged to quarantine for 14 days prior to doing so.
“What we are asking is that before they travel to someone’s home, that they quarantine for 14 days so that they know they are not going to be carrying the virus with them when they go to their family’s home or wherever they are headed,” she said. “So if they quarantine for 14 days, then they are going to have an extremely low risk of bringing something into the household.”
Anderson said individuals also can get a rapid COVID-19 test to ensure they are negative before traveling. She emphasized that this does not mean the individual will not eventually test positive, but that it does ensure they are not taking it with them when they begin their travel.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic in March and April, CDHD urged those who traveled to certain areas, such as New York City, to quarantine for 14 days. Anderson said CDHD currently does not have any restrictions in place, but that states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island require anyone traveling there to quarantine for 14 days after arrival.
Anderson said CDHD’s concern is that if people travel for Thanksgiving, they potentially could further spread COVID-19 in the Central District or to their destination.
“We need to remember that there is a Thanksgiving every year and this one can be different,” she said. “When we choose to celebrate in very small groups and within our own household, we are protecting our nurses, our physicians, our health care providers and our first responders — all of those folks who serve us every day. We can say ‘thank you’ to them by staying home.”