The leaders of D.C., Maryland and Virginia — along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — asked residents to avoid traveling for Thanksgiving. Now that the holiday is over, we’re closely monitoring the data for signs of any increase in the spread of the coronavirus.
Millions of Americans took to the skies and the highways for Thanksgiving at the risk of pouring gasoline on the coronavirus fire, disregarding increasingly dire warnings that they stay home and limit their holiday gatherings to members of their own household.
While the number of Americans traveling by air over the past several days was down dramatically from the same time last year, many pressed ahead with their holiday plans amid skyrocketing deaths, hospitalizations and confirmed infections across the U.S.
Some were tired of more than eight months of social distancing and determined to spend time with loved ones.
“I think with the holidays and everything, it’s so important right now, especially because people are so bummed out because of the whole pandemic,” said 25-year-old Cassidy Zerkle of Phoenix, who flew to Kansas City, Missouri, to visit family.
It’s too early to see what impact travel and holiday gatherings will have on cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Your Chances of Encountering the Coronavirus at an Event This Thanksgiving
This map, based on a model by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, uses real-time data to show the risk of attending an event given its size and location. The risk level refers to the probability of encountering at least one COVID-19 positive individual, and the model assumes there are at least five times more cases than are being reported.
Source: COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool
As of Wednesday, the District has barred outdoor gatherings up to 25 people and added other restrictions:
- Restaurants may stay open until midnight, but alcohol sales and consumption must end at 10 p.m.
- The number of people inside houses of worship has been reduced from 100 to 50 people, or down from 50% to 25% capacity, depending on which number is smaller.
- All indoor group exercise classes and all outdoor group classes with 25 or more people must be suspended. Individuals can still go workout solo in gyms.
- The live entertainment pilot is suspended.
One exercise facility owner is fighting back against the Mayor's orders calling them "unfair."
Anne Mahlum, the founder and CEO of SolidCore, sent a letter to clients saying the D.C. locations will remain open despite the city's new COVID-19 restrictions suspending all indoor group workout classes.
Also starting Wednesday, Maryland state troopers began to fan out across the state to beef up enforcement of the governor’s emergency orders affecting bars, restaurants and private venues.
Health officials say making the difficult choices now will leave us with a lot to be thankful for in the weeks ahead.
Hogan is also urging Maryland residents to participate in the state's COVID-19 tracking app in order to quell the virus this holiday season.
What the Data Shows
D.C. announced on Friday another 201 cases of the virus. No additional people died. The seven-day rolling average of cases and the number of hospitalizations were about steady.
Maryland announced 2,378 more cases of the virus. Twenty-two more people died. The seven-day rolling average of cases was up. The number of hospitalizations was about steady.
Virginia announced 1,226 more cases of the virus. Six more people died. The rolling case average was about steady, and hospitalizations had climbed, with 1,276 COVID-19 patients hospitalized.
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- Fairfax County health officials released a list of holiday coronavirus guidelines on, breaking up activities into varying risk categories.
- Some Fairfax County students have returned to all-virtual learning amid a rise in coronavirus cases.
- A total of 51,510 coronavirus tests were administered in Maryland last Friday, the highest-ever on a single day.
- The Smithsonian is shutting down its museums and the National Zoo once again due to recent spikes in COVID-19 cases.
- A program that provided extended unemployment benefits to out-of-work Virginians ended earlier this month.
- COVID-19 numbers continue to paint a dire picture for Black Americans, and there is an ongoing effort in the Black community to increase testing.
- The Metro board voted to close a budget gap by changing how often trains run.
- Officials have reversed a decision to cancel the annual Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery. The event, held in December, will happen after all.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced how the state will allocate about $70 million in federal aid as the state braces for months of rising coronavirus cases.
- Maryland released a new contact tracing app, and has reduced indoor operations for bars and restaurants from 75% to 50% in response to rising coronavirus cases and increased hospitalizations.
- A review by the News4 I-Team has found concerns that Prince George’s County, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the state, has received what some are calling an underwhelming share of the more than $165 million in aid thus far.
- D.C. now requires travelers from all but four states get tested for COVID-19, once before travel and again if they plan to stay in the District for more than three days. Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii and Vermont are the exceptions.
- Maryland tightened restrictions on businesses, bars and restaurants.
- All Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo closed because of rising COVID-19 cases, officials announced.
- Hours before some Fairfax County students were set to return to in-person learning, the school district said that they needed to delay the plan.
- Courts throughout Maryland partially shut down due to the pandemic.
- Virginia announced new measures to fight COVID-19 as cases of the virus have spiked across the country.
- Prince George's County tightened restrictions and required masks to be worn outdoors.
- Montgomery County reduced capacity limits at many businesses, including for indoor dining, to 25%. The county previously stopped giving waivers for alcohol sales after 10 p.m.
- D.C.'s mayor extended the city's coronavirus state of emergency to last through the end of the year.
How to Stay Safe
There are ways to lower your risk of catching coronavirus. Here are guidelines from the CDC:
- Wear a snug-fitting mask that covers your nose and mouth.
- Avoid being indoors with people who are not members of your household. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19. If you are indoors with people you don’t live with, stay at least six feet apart and keep your mask on.
- Wash your hands often, especially after you have been in a public place.