Will the United States heed Canada’s Thanksgiving lesson?



Health experts are desperately warning Americans not to fly, train, or drive to see their families, and say that without changes in typical American behavior over the holidays, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner could result in thousands more funerals by Christmas.

More than 250,000 Americans have died from the disease since March. Canada had brought the pandemic under control compared to its southern neighbor, but the new wave has also prompted officials to sound caution.

An urgent travel warning was issued this week by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after more than one million new cases of Covid were recorded over seven days. Some governors and officials have been even more blunt: stay at home.

“What is at stake is essentially the increased risk that one of your loved ones will fall ill, be hospitalized and die,” said Dr Henry Walke, CDC’s chief of Covid-19 incidents. “And around these holidays, we tend to bring together people from several generations.

AAA predicts Thanksgiving travel will fall by at least 10% from 2019 – the biggest drop in a year since the 2008 recession – but notes that CDC and state guidelines will likely win over even more travelers potential to stay at home. Still, the high end of that forecast is that 50 million Americans will hop in cars or planes to sit at tables with all the trimmings.

So while some Americans are planning Zoomsgiving, Canadians are facing a post-Thanksgiving surge. And now to talk about Christmas is terrible.

New public health modeling projects that say Canada could see up to 60,000 new cases of Covid per day – more than a dozen times current levels – by the end of December if people increase their contacts and celebrate the holidays as usual. Even the status quo for Canadians would translate into more than 20,000 new cases per day, according to projections, about five times more than today. The fugitive numbers were attributed in part to Thanksgiving gatherings.

Trudeau pleaded with Canadians on Friday to stay home and avoid travel if they can. “In the coming weeks, we have to flatten that curve,” he said.

The comments were a significant change in tone for the Prime Minister who hinted to Canadians throughout the fall that they had “a chance at Christmas”, provided they curl up. “We all want to try to have a Christmas as normal as possible, even though a normal Christmas is, quite frankly, out of the question,” Trudeau said Friday.

Premiers have been reluctant to reimpose the harsh spring measures on their residents for fear of further hurting the economy. Still, some have flirted with greater restrictions as cases continue to rise – Ontario just announced new lockdowns at hot spots, and Quebec has a plan to allow gatherings of up to 10 people during four days around Christmas while begging residents to self-quarantine for a week before and after the events.

Governors across the United States are increasingly placing limits on public and private gatherings and on testing and quarantine requirements for those who choose to travel out of state.

A bipartisan group of Midwestern governors on Tuesday urged its residents to adhere to public health guidelines during this week’s celebration. New Jersey has tightened its limit for indoor gatherings to 10 people, like New York’s requirements for indoor and outdoor gatherings. California, the most populous state in the country, now imposes a 10 p.m. curfew.

Several states, including Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont, have established quarantine or testing requirements for out-of-state visitors. But the thresholds are hardly uniform and the requirements themselves are difficult to apply.

In both countries, the holidays coincide with growing Covid fatigue and colder weather moving social gatherings indoors, factors that are surely fueling spikes in cases. Add to that the conflicting messages from government officials on how to approach the holiday season and Canada and the United States each have recipes for potential disaster.

Senior health officials in the Trump administration on Wednesday implored Americans to comply with CDC guidelines and national and local guidelines. the On the same day, the White House press secretary called the state-level travel warnings “Orwellian” – even though the president has delegated the response to the pandemic to lower levels of government. on the poor. “

Even Trudeau’s rhetoric about the holidays and the government’s response to the virus has changed over time.

Most of Canada shut down in the spring as government and health officials scrambled to learn more about the virus. Now in the nation’s second wave, Trudeau has let the provinces, which are responsible for delivering health care in Canada, take the lead in deciding what restrictions are needed in their jurisdiction. He stopped long before he invoked a law that would give the federal government greater control over the lockdown of the entire country, insisting it is not necessary, although he has started to push some provinces to do more to protect their citizens.

And now, the efforts of Trudeau and Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, to save Christmas are marked by the latest models.

Trudeau warned earlier this week that the holiday season “will be different this year” depending on certain factors – “what part of the country you are in, what people can do between now and the holidays to flatten the curve, to reduce the number of cases. “

Tam suggested that Canadians “discuss” with their family members the expectations they must meet to spend Christmas together, such as limiting contact with people outside their homes for 14 days before a visit or wearing clothing. masks inside all the time.

“We have every chance to bend the curve,” she said on Friday.

With Americans eager to see their friends and family, This week, the travel industry has had to walk a tightrope between promoting air travel as safe and recognizing the health risks of vacation travel spelled out by top doctors across the country.

“The CDC has advised people to reconsider their travel plans. This further underscores the need to be really smart and very vigilant about health and safety protocols if you decide to travel,” said Roger Dow, CEO of States -United. Travel association.

“I’d rather have a little less travel now to get back on the road faster.”

Sam Mintz contributed to this report.


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