HUDSON — Local health departments, school administrators and public officials are urging everyone to stay safe this Thanksgiving amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Rising numbers of COVID cases across the state have some worried about a potential surge in positive coronavirus cases after the holiday.
“I get it, I think people are getting really tired of the restrictions and they are tired of mask wearing. They really want to get back to their lives,” said Jack Mabb, director of the Columbia County Department of Health. “I think that many people will do a traditional Thanksgiving, the one that they’ve always done. Think it through and try to be as safe as possible.”
Hand washing and social distancing are important in limiting the spread of COVID-19, Mabb said.
The Columbia County Department of Health is urging residents to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines this Thanksgiving and not participate in activities that have been deemed high risk.
“I’m very concerned about how these numbers will look after Thanksgiving,” Mabb said. “I realize people are already tired of hearing this, but we all need to weigh the value of taking a chance on our health by spending the holiday in a crowd of people against doing the right things. I know it’s a hard decision. However, you do not want this virus and you don’t want to be in a position where you become positive and pass it on to a loved one who is immunocompromised.”
Greene County Public Health is also urging residents to stay safe during the holiday season.
“COVID-19 hasn’t gone anywhere. Cases are rising rapidly in many parts of the U.S. This pandemic is not over,” according to a statement from the department. “But, if we all work together and do our part, it can be.”
Some activities deemed by the CDC to be high-risk include attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your household, attending densely populated parades or going to crowded stores.
Moderate-risk activities include having small dinners with people who live in your household, having virtual dinners or meetings with family and friends, dropping off prepared meals in a contactless way for family or friends, watching sports or parades on television at home instead of in person and shopping online instead of going to a store.
More than 1 million COVID cases were reported in the United States in the past seven days, according to the CDC.
The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to have it at home with the people you live with, according to the CDC. Gathering with friends and family who do not live with you can increase the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.
Columbia County has had 928 positive COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic and Greene County has had 650 cases, according to each county’s health department.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed new restrictions limiting the number of people who can attend in-home gatherings to 10. Cuomo encouraged residents to take the guidelines seriously.
“My advice on Thanksgiving — don’t be a turkey,” Cuomo said. “You don’t want to be the turkey on Thanksgiving.”
Several local school districts have also encouraged families to stay safe this Thanksgiving.
“Please consider virtual gatherings or other activities that reduce your and your child’s risk of getting the virus,” Hudson City School District Superintendent Maria Lagana Suttmeier wrote in a letter to district families. “Traveling, sharing food and attending indoor gatherings outside your household increases your risk and the risk of spreading COVID-19 within our schools.”
Some school districts in Columbia and Greene counties have switched to remote learning until at least Nov. 30, after the Thanksgiving break, because of positive COVID cases in the district and the number of students, staff and teachers required to quarantine.
“The district is committed to providing a safe, healthy and secure learning environment,” Catskill Central School Superintendent Ronel Cook wrote in a letter to district families. “We ask that when you make travel plans out of state during the school year, you carefully consider the impact and disruption that your decision may have on our school community at large.”