Despite the accelerating pace of the COVID-19 pandemic across the United States, millions of people are traveling this week to see their families for Thanksgiving. Gatherings will continue as planned, as if the Centers for Disease Control hadn’t issued a warning against traveling for the holiday. With the masses converging, a pandemic in its eight month is inevitably expected to grow, prolonging the downward spiral of hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S., the latter of which now stands at nearly 260,000.
Much of the suffering has been invisible to people who haven’t contracted the disease, been thrown into financial destitution, or seen the virus affect someone they know. For these people, it’s useful to demonstrate the real human costs of the virus’ unchecked spread.
A recent Twitter thread written by a critical care nurse does exactly this. For anyone who might still be toying with the idea of traveling to visit family in anticipation of Thursday’s holiday, it’ll help underscore why you definitely shouldn’t.
The woman, a critical care nurse who’s tweeted about her job treating COVID patients throughout the pandemic, starkly discusses the emotional toll she’ll face being quarantined from her daughter through the holidays—a requirement due to her exposure to the virus at work. She attributes the forced separation to the skyrocketing caseloads throughout the country, caused by scores of people who don’t wear masks or refuse to adhere to the medical community’s broader guidelines.
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The burden for healthcare workers isn’t entirely the result of treating a crush of sick patients. There’s an emotional dimension that creeps into their lives, especially during times centered around family.
The best way to give healthcare workers a much needed breather is to stay home this year. It sucks, I know—but it’s more than likely that whatever precautions your family is implementing for Thanksgiving won’t work. Today, the U.S. set its 13th consecutive record for COVID hospitalizations. Critical care nurses, doctors, and everyone else at your local ICU ward have been battling this pandemic for more than eight months.
If hearing it from me—a writer who’s been able to work safely at home since March—falls flat for you, take it from a critical care nurse:
Given the mess we’ve created for ourselves, adhering closely to safety guidelines by wearing a mask, washing your hands, and avoiding crowds is essential, but sometimes isn’t enough to avoid contracting the virus. Even if you’ve tried to live your life on significantly less social terms, it’s possible that you may endanger people from across a table as you share a meal. Asymptomatic transmission is the most common was the disease spreads, per the CDC, so there’s a chance that even if you feel great (or test negative), you’re putting everyone in your family in jeopardy.
As you peruse train times, browse bookings for last-second flights, or wait for a bus to take you home, don’t just think of your family members. Think of the nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers across the industry, too. And then stay home.