Answers to Every Possible Pandemic-Thanksgiving Question

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here.

Most years, in the anxious days before Thanksgiving, I write a health-related FAQ. It’s meant to be fun, reminding us of the timeless risks that spike every year around this day, such as Salmonella poisoning and fires from exploding turkeys.

This year is different. On Thursday, the CDC advised Americans not to congregate with people outside their immediate household. If anything, the advisory understated the risk at hand, saying that “travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.” Travel does increase your risk. It should have read: Do not travel. Do not gather. Effectively, Thanksgiving is canceled. Just wait one year, and then have a basically normal holiday. If everyone in the United States did this, we’d likely save thousands of lives.

Many people have changed or pared down their holiday plans, but many others have purchased tickets, their hearts and minds made up. At this point, since millions of people are likely to attempt some form of intermediate-risk Thanksgiving, we should consider a harm-reduction approach. Just as sex-education classes for teens are not meant to encourage those activities, this FAQ is not an endorsement of Thanksgiving gatherings. It is only an attempt to respond to reality.https://65c1a1738b8ade3888d42a125f928f50.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

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