COVID-19 calls for another year of virtual Thanksgiving?

By Brigid Driscoll / NM News Port

Caroline Jamharian has been stressing about Thanksgiving since her grandmother canceled the traditional family get-together last year because of the pandemic. Jamharian, 20, said her large extended family includes many members who travel from afar so she’s been praying it wouldn’t get canceled again. Everyone in her family is vaccinated except her younger cousins and it’s not clear if they’ll get the shots in time.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, millions of Americans are trying to figure out if they will be having a real or virtual turkey dinner. Virtual gatherings remain the safest choice for celebrating with a large number of guests from different households, the CDC has maintained.

If you intend to get together in person, getting vaccinated is the most important thing to do, according to recently released holiday guidance from the CDC. Unvaccinated people are urged not to travel, but those who must should consider getting tested before leaving town and should stay masked when close to others. 

Although the COVID-19 vaccine became available for children in early November, only the very first kids in line would have time to get their second shots before Thanksgiving.

Children made up about 25% of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico in recent weeks and although they are less likely to become seriously ill, they can still spread the disease to others, even if they don’t show any symptoms, according to the CDC.  

Thanksgiving is a major travel event. According to TSA checkpoint numbers, the day before Thanksgiving last year, 1,070,967 thousand people traveled, while nearly double that traveled on the same day one year before Covid. This year numbers have started to go back to normal as more United States citizens get vaccinated for the holiday season. 

More than 83% of adult New Mexicans have had at least one dose of the vaccine but only 63% of teens have had one shot. But those numbers vary across the state. While 91% of Los Alamos County residents are fully vaccinated, only 40% are in Roosevelt County. With over 51 thousand doses administered in the last seven days, it is looking promising that more people are choosing to take that next step and get vaccinated.

New Mexicans say they feel comfortable relying on their own vaccination status around unvaccinated family members. Courtesy

So far it looks like the Jamharian turkey dinner is back on. “Fingers crossed we can all get together like the good ol’ days,” Jamharian said. “It’s time to try to get our family back to normal.”

Brigid Driscoll is a reporter for New Mexico News Port and can be reached @Brigid94279186 on Twitter