Ilene Robinson, 79, removes her mask to take a drink under her face shield after traveling from Detroit to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. November 23, 2020. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

THE NEUTRAL ZONE: DEEP DIVE

Millions of Americans traveled over the weekend despite pleas from the Centers for Disease Control to stay home and avoid large gatherings for Thanksgiving. Health experts guaranteed an explosion in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks as a result, even more so than the current vast outbreak. 

The Transportation Security Administration screened more than two million flyers around the country Friday and Saturday. Although a majority of Americans are expected to travel by car this year, as many as 50 million Americans are expected to board planes between Wednesday and Sunday.

Travel organization AAA said a 10% drop in Thanksgiving travel is expected this year in response to the rise in  cases, as well as changing travel restrictions and CDC guidance. The numbers seen this weekend were less than half of the travelers who flew last year on the weekend before Thanksgiving. And yet, airlines set a post-pandemic record for U.S. passengers on Sunday. 

Experts raised concerns over Thanksgiving travel in early November, as cases rose sharply in Canada two weeks after their own Thanksgiving celebrations. 

“We have to remember that the virus does not care that it is the holidays, that you are family, and that you have already gone a long time without seeing one another. If given opportunities to spread, the virus will spread,” said Christopher Worsham, a critical care physician and research fellow at Harvard Medical School.

For those waiting in long lines for coronavirus tests ahead of the holiday, a negative test might not be enough to guarantee the safety of others. With the two-week incubation period for the virus, a patient could test negative and have no symptoms, even with a new infection. The CDC suggested those who do spend the holiday at someone else’s house should bring their own plates and utensils, avoid areas where food is prepared and wear a mask when not eating.

Active Flights over the contiguous United States, Nov. 24, 2020, at 11 am EST / Source: FlightRadar24

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Coronavirus: The agonising Thanksgiving dilemma facing millions of Americans – BBC News – 11/24/2020
As hard-hit regions have reimposed pandemic restrictions, even the Bidens and Trumps have made changes this year. President-elect Joe Biden revealed he and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, will have just one guest at their Thanksgiving dinner, while outgoing President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will remain at the White House for the weekend. We asked people from around the country what changes they had made to their Thanksgiving plans and how they felt about 2020’s pared-down holiday season.

Thanksgiving could make or break US coronavirus response – Associated Press – 11/24/2020
As governors and mayors grapple with an out-of-control pandemic, they are ratcheting up mask mandates and imposing restrictions on small indoor gatherings, which have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus. But while such measures carry the weight of law, they are, in practical terms, unenforceable, and officials are banking on voluntary compliance instead. […] While many are undoubtedly heeding public health advice — downsizing Thanksgiving plans, avoiding get-togethers, wearing masks when they’re around people who don’t live with them — it’s inevitable that a segment of the population will blow off new state and local restrictions and socialize anyway.

Can We Admit That Nobody’s Thanksgiving Choices Are Clear-Cut This Year? – Slate Magazine – 11/23/2020
All across America, in harried, guilt-ridden conversations, parents and children like us are negotiating their safety, their feelings, their desperation, their exhaustion. And plenty of others are not having these conversations. Maybe they, like many Americans, only travel once a year, and their airline tickets are nonrefundable, and the CDC issued its recommendation way too late, so they’re heading to the airport because they just don’t see any other option. Maybe they’re simply not having them because they’re afraid to broach the subject—afraid of offending a mother, afraid of hurting a father, afraid of adding conflict to an already complicated relationship during this, the most tense season of the most tense year in memory. A lot of people might wind up, because of circumstance or fear, backed into situations that make them uncomfortable and risk their health.

This American Mess – The New York Times – 11/21/2020
Half of the states have travel restrictions of some kind. Nearly 4 out of 5 epidemiologists surveyed are having Thanksgiving at home with just their household or not at all. The C.D.C. is nearly begging people to stay home over the holidays in expectations of an even greater explosion in the spread of coronavirus. But, this Thanksgiving, Americans are still absolutely gonna America anyway. Here’s some ways we’re solving — or failing to solve — the ethical, political, emotional and viral puzzles of 2020.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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