Last year, 3.2 million travelers passed through LAX in the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. This year, that number is expected to drop dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic, but people will still be gathering for the holiday, and doctors say they should reconsider those plans.
Thanksgiving is usually a pretty big deal at Erica Lai’s house with at least 24 guests turning up, he says. And that doesn’t even count relatives and friends who fly in from Asia, pushing her list to well past 30.
But this year?
“We’ll just be at home with our immediate family,” Lai says. “No friends allowed.”
The Lais aren’t the only ones.
When contacted, LAX said they did not have an estimate on travelers expected to pass through their arrival and departure gates. What is known is that the numbers have been down around 70% since the pandemic began, according to officials.
And that may be a good thing.
“As you bring people together, this virus just spreads,” Dr. Thomas Yadegar, medical director at Providence Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Tarzana, says.
Yadegar says there are some real dangers people need to consider: college students coming home after being in contact with strangers; everyone’s suffering from “Covid fatigue.”
“As it gets colder and colder, it’s harder to have an outdoor setting,” Yadegar says. “And people are changing to come indoors.”
But that’s where infection occurs, he says.
Asked about potentially, isolating visitors from the household, Yadegar says, “It’s hard to quarantine them, because you’d have to quarantine for 10-14 days.”
What about testing everyone beforehand?
“I would,” the doctor responds. “At the least, that’s what i’m recommending.”
But testing is not 100% accurate, he points out.
Instead, it may be better to put off your feast or contact loved ones with Zoom conferences.
“Some people are afraid,” says Stephen Jenkins, a Thanksgiving host who normally has half a dozen or so guests over for the holiday.
But not this year, as most would have to travel here from the United Kingdom.
“It seems almost pointless, at this point — you know, until they lift the restrictions,” Jenkins says.
Yadegar said one way to look at this is to concentrate on the good news this week that a vaccine may be just months away. Why let your guard down now, when you’ve worked so hard to stay healthy and there’s light at the end of the tunnel?