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    For The Love Of God, Please Cancel Your Thanksgiving Plans

    Unless it’s just you and your household eating pies.

    Are you planning a Thanksgiving with people outside of your household? Well, if so, I’ve got GREAT news for you!

    There's still time to cancel them!

    Crystal Sing / Getty Images

    It's not too late! You can still decide to NOT drive to your family’s house, or to NOT get on a train or a plane, or just to NOT share an indoor meal with people from another household!

    Wait, what? I thought that only BIG gatherings like movie theaters and concerts and basketball games and weddings are a high risk for spreading COVID-19, especially if they are indoors or if people aren’t wearing masks! Isn’t that what we were told this summer?

    Well, a LOT has changed: SO MANY MORE people are infected now. It's getting worse every day. In the United States, every day that goes by, there is a higher chance of people around you having the coronavirus. People at your family’s work. Kids in your family’s school. Or your family members.

    This means that the things we did over the summer that were relatively safe are now MUCH, MUCH LESS SAFE. Spending one hour at the gym is less safe, even with the same number of people there. Eating quickly at the bar is much less safe. Going to church or temple is much less safe.

    Once the virus becomes as widespread as it is now, it is extremely easy for many, many more people to get it.

    Steve Chenn / Getty Images

    It’s like if there were 5 little fires in a forest, all spread apart, then the whole forest might not catch on fire. But if there are 50 little fires, then all of a sudden it’s going to be pretty likely that we’ll have a giant forest fire, especially if lots of little fires were visiting grandma the next birch tree over.

    COME ON. It’s been months of isolation and quarantine. There is no way that one family dinner is going to really be that big of a deal for the whole country, right?

    If lots of people “make this one exception” to eat with their loved ones after months of isolation and quarantine, then it WILL be a big deal.

    Look at Canada, which celebrated their Thanksgiving on Oct. 12. Families did not heed the warnings, and look at how COVID-19 cases rose more sharply afterward:

    George Rutherford @UCSF is amazing at turning data into insights. @ Friday town hall, he showed results below, from Canada's Thanksgiving (which was on Oct 12). The country has done incredibly well w/ Covid, but note sharp uptick in cases following holiday. Sober warning for U.S.


    We ❤️ Canada. Canada gave us Ryan Gosling and 100% real maple syrup — it is more expensive but omg does it taste good. Let’s learn from Canada’s mistake.

    Maybe you’re thinking, What am I supposed to do now? Just bail on my family? I already bought plane tickets! I’m supposed to bring the pumpkin pie!

    Chuck Savage / Getty Images

    Yes, actually, you *should* just bail on your family. Or if you’re hosting, you should cancel it. Here are some ways you could let them down easy:

    “I’ve realized that protecting your life and health is the best way to show how thankful I am to have you in my life.”

    “I want to have Thanksgiving with grandma next year, and if we do it this year she might not make it. I don’t want that on my conscience.”

    “The COVID numbers are way higher than expected and Thanksgiving dinners could tip this into an even bigger crisis. I’m sorry but I have decided I need to cancel. You mean so much to me and this breaks my heart, but it’s what I need to do. We’ll see each other when it’s safer.”

    “I read this BuzzFeed post about why we should cancel our Thanksgiving plans. I’m sharing it with you here, it explains everything!”

    But wait a second, why can’t we just all get tested? Then we can all hang out safely indoors without masks, right?

    Multi-generational family standing behind a thanksgiving table with "Nope" label photoshopped on top.
    John Eder / Getty Images

    Unfortunately, that won’t work. One of the worst things about COVID is how sneaky it is. On average it takes 5 days from infection to symptoms, and it can take as long as 14 days. And 2 to 3 days before you have symptoms, when you are feeling fine, you can be super contagious and get others sick.

    That means you can get infected one day, but your test the next day can be negative, and a couple days after that you can be super infectious but feel totally fine!

    Plus, 1 in 5 people never experience any symptoms at all. You could be sitting at Thanksgiving dinner, laughing and talking, feeling great, and getting your friends and family sick without even knowing it.

    Check out these charts on The New York Times, they do a great job of explaining it.

    Just cancel those plans! The numbers are surging and getting tested isn’t enough.

    Comedy Central

    It can even be a stress reliever to cancel plans — think of all the extra time you’ll have!

    Think of it this way: They might even be glad you did it! Maybe they are secretly worried about the risk of spreading COVID-19 and they don't want to let YOU down, or to be the one to disappoint people. You can help! Be the canceler.

    And you can still make the best of a bad situation. Here are some things you could suggest doing with your extended family or friends instead:

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    • Play online games with your friends and family (we love Jackbox and Tabletopia!)

    • Do a zoom trivia night or cocktail hour

    • Go on an outdoor walk with masks on

    • Drop off pies and yummy food on a loved one’s doorstep and wave hello

    • Surprise family members with group calls

    • Order in a special delivery food or cook some of these Tasty recipes

    • Do a Quiz Party with your family

    (Or if you're going to have some unexpected time by yourself or with a partner, buy this BuzzFeed branded sex toy to help pass that time ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

    OK, so maybe those ideas suck. And this whole thing sucks. Nothing can replace spending time with my family and friends, right?

    Family sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner holding a phone to face-time.
    Skynesher / Getty Images

    You know what? You are right. Zoom and FaceTime are not the same and they suck in comparison to a warm, cuddly embrace. Quarantine and isolation have taken a toll on our mental health and physical health. It's hard for so many people. There is no denying or diminishing that fact.

    But you know what sucks more? Massive spikes in COVID-19 cases when hospitals are already overflowing. As a TV anchor recently reminded us, broadly speaking, the hospitals do not have room for you. Repeat: the hospitals do not have room for you.

    Speaking of hospitals, here’s what an ER doctor recently said about Thanksgiving:

    Here's what an ER doc told me about Thanksgiving when I asked yesterday:

    It sounds terrible because it is terrible. But we do have some good news!

    You can still make a difference. You can still cancel Thanksgiving dinner with people outside your household, and be a hero. Also, you can eat pies all day. Who’s gonna stop you?

    Two dachshunds wearing headbands that looks like a turkey. Photo taken inside. They are on a tiled floor.
    Elizabeth W. Kearley / Getty Images

    Not these guys. They just want to share a little.

    And one more positive thought: This is likely the LAST holiday season you’ll have to make this sacrifice. The vaccine trials are going way better than expected.

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    Two of the COVID vaccines look like they’re over 90% effective and most people should be able to start getting vaccinated by late spring. We’re almost there! Just be careful for a few more months and we can save thousands of lives!

    Next year’s Thanksgiving will be different! We are *this* close. We can do it. Cancel your travel plans. Your family is worth it.

    Happy multi-generation family sitting at the dining table on Thanksgiving and communicating through a digital tablet
    Pixelfit / Getty Images