Commentary: It’s Time to Rethink Thanksgiving

By Dr. John Luellen, president of Mercy Health-Youngstown, and Dr. James Kravec, chief medical officer.

It’s time to rethink Thanksgiving.

We’ve heard it time and time again – we need to wear masks, maintain social distance, wash our hands and avoid large gatherings – but as evidenced by our ever-growing case numbers throughout the Mahoning Valley, COVID-19 fatigue has set in across our community.

Even though hundreds of thousands of people across the country who have died from COVID-19 will not have a chance to see their children graduate from college or hold their grandchildren once again, we’ve become numb to the numbers and other global news has replaced the urgency of this pandemic.

The idea of social bubbles has given us a false sense of security. And the size of our bubbles has grown as people become fatigued by the sacrifices COVID-19 has forced us to make. The reality though, is that it’s almost impossible to keep most bubbles uncontaminated. People often come into close contact with those who are COVID-19 positive but asymptomatic, which is one-way COVID-19 continues to spread from bubble to bubble and across entire neighborhoods. 

This is the reality right now in the Valley, as our public health officials have confirmed, and we fear it will continue to be a significant issue as we plan for the holidays.

We must act now and take new, bold steps to save lives right here at home. It’s time to rethink Thanksgiving. 

Consider a smaller gathering with your immediate household. Consider gathering outside if the weather permits. Consider using technology to safely connect with friends and loved ones.

We’ve seen the damage COVID-19 can cause when we gather together, we can look at our friends just north of us in Canada as a cautionary tale. COVID-19 case counts are climbing across the Canadian population, even in areas under new restrictions. Canadian officials point to the Thanksgiving holiday, which took place on the second Monday of October, as the reason for the spike.

Now imagine the loved ones you’d have around your Thanksgiving table. Who are you willing to live without? No one, right? We challenge you all to rethink your Thanksgiving plans to ensure we put the safety of our families and friends first, as an act of love and gratitude for everyone we care about. 

We must also continue to wear our masks and practice all the tried and true safety measures we know to be effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

If not for ourselves, then for the sake of those we love.

The time to make a change is now. 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.