Doctors seeing COVID-19 cases tied to Thanksgiving gatherings; more time needed to know true impact of holiday

Doctors say it will likely be another week or so – potentially a couple of weeks – before the true COVID-19 impact of Thanksgiving gatherings is clear.

What is clear, though, is that doctors have begun to see patients infected last week, around the same time they gathered with loved ones for the holiday.

“We’ve seen some of that spread already,” said Dr. Joseph Allen with Premier Health. “I can think of a patient example (Thursday) who acquired it the day before Thanksgiving – sounds like he was with some family, he tested positive.”

The CDC advised against traveling for the holiday last week, but millions of Americans still took to the air and road to meet up with loved ones to celebrate.

Allen said he will be paying close attention to what happens in the coming days, in particular, to see whether Thanksgiving will end up having a major impact on cases.

“I think that seven to 14-day window is when you really start seeing that,” Allen said. “So we’ll know by next week; next Thursday we’ll be saying, ‘Oh, maybe we dodged a bullet,’ ‘maybe we didn’t,’ so this weekend will be pretty important to that. And then we’ll have the next hurdle with Christmas coming up’

New guidance from the CDC for the rest of the holiday season encourages Americans to either stay home, or get two COVID-19 tests if they do travel: the first, one to three days before traveling, the second, three to five days after.

Allen explained what he is advising his patients. It’s a balancing act between physical and mental health, he said.

“Obviously if you’re out there without a mask on, having large gatherings and what have you, that’s not ideal and I really don’t want to see people in those situations,” he said. “But to be shut in and be exposed to nobody and kind of play the hermit role…take that to the other extreme…I don’t want to see that either.”