Featrue: Amid raging COVID-19 pandemic, Americans head into different Thanksgiving holiday


  • World
  • Monday, 23 Nov 2020

by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Terrance Fordham, who works in the legal field, will be having Thanksgiving over 1,000 miles south of his New York City home this year.

Due to COVID-19, his company has gone 100 percent remote.

Instead of another freezing cold winter in New York City with biting winds piercing through even the thickest winter coats, he and his wife will be spending Thanksgiving basking in the sun in the U.S. state of Florida, he told Xinhua.

Amy Cohen, a Pennsylvania resident whose status as a senior citizen puts her in a coronavirus high risk category, will be spending Thanksgiving with only a few family members, in a bid to avoid contracting the virus that targets people her age.

Raymond Gerth, a resident of Pennsylvania with a heart condition, will be spending his Thanksgiving with relatives out of state, but the dinner will be kept small.

Such stories are heard all over the United States this year, as coronavirus has changed the way people do business, where they live and how they will celebrate the Thanksgiving holidays.

STRINGENT RESTRICTIONS

Amid a surge in news cases, Pennsylvania ordered that any individual who visits from another state must have a negative coronavirus test 72 hours prior to arrival.

The U.S. state of Oregon also issued what critics call "un-American" orders this holiday season, as Governor Kate Brown, a Democract, has banned indoor Thanksgiving gatherings in private residences.

In defiance, Oregon Republican county-level official Tootie Smith posted on Facebook that she would be having a Thanksgiving bash at her home "with as many family and friends as I can find."

The city of Philadelphia also has moved to ban Thanksgiving gatherings in people's homes if they involve people from other households.

However, it is unclear how - or whether - such measures will be enforced. Police departments across the country, aside from a few high-profile cases, have largely avoided enforcing such rules, with which many officers privately disagree.

MASSIVE DROP IN THANKSGIVING TRAVELERS

It's a longstanding Thanksgiving tradition for college students to return home for Thanksgiving weekend, to reconnect and to regale their families around the dinner table with tales of their university adventures.

But this year as college students fan out nationwide, universities fret they will bring the virus to folks back home.

Young people tend to be bigger risk takers than their older counterparts, and some have shrugged off fears of coronavirus and attended large college parties without social distancing. Youth are a low risk category for the virus, and many - if not most - who contract the illness are asymptomatic.

Colleges are scrambling to prevent what they believe could be a national super spreader event when students head home, and some universities have required them to quarantine themselves before returning home, or to receive a negative COVID test.

Some universities are telling students who head home for the holidays to complete their coursework online this semester.

Overall, the United States will see much less travel this Thanksgiving, a holiday known as the year's biggest travel day, with bumper-to-bumper traffic up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

GasBuddy, a travel and navigation app used by North American drivers, recently released its 2020 Annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey. The survey found that only 35 percent of Americans will be taking to the roads this year, a sharp drop from 65 percent from last year.

As for Cohen, the senior citizen in Pennsylvania, she said this holiday season is like none she's ever experienced.

"All of this has been difficult. The holidays won't be the same," she said.

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