Traveling to visit family this Thanksgiving is a bad idea

With vaccine approval expected soon, those who ignore safety recommendations and regulations continue to drive COVID-19 infections to records highs to bring more infections and deaths from the pandemic.

Looks like the presidential transition can now move on with a nod from the man who refuses to believe he lost and his underling who kept the mechanics of changing presidents at bay for just one day shy of three weeks.

Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration, officially declared Joe Biden “the apparent winner” of the 2020 presidential election Monday after Michigan voting officials certified the former vice president’s win and granted official access to transition funds and resources.

Good. Now, maybe, we can move on to more important things, like the deadly COVID-19 Coronavirus that has killed more than 261,726 people in America and nearly 4,000 in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

While approvals of at least two vaccines to treat the virus appear close to approval by the Federal Drug Administration, too many people here in Virginia and around the nation appear unconcerned as they ignore masks that help slow the spread and engage in questionable activities that keep the infections rising at record rates.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says record numbers of people booked flights this week for travel to send Thanksgiving with families even as the Centers for Disease Control urged them to stay home and celebrate the holiday via Zoom, online texts.

Notes the CDC:

More than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States over the last 7 days.

As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.

Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.

Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.

–Centers for Disease Control

“Given the fluid and dynamic nature of what’s going on right now in the spread and uptick of infections, people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings, particularly when members of the family might be at a risk because of their age or their underlying condition,” Infectious disease expert and federal official Anthony Fauci told CBS News recently. “Namely you may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering unless you’re pretty certain that the people you’re dealing with are not infected.”

Here in Floyd County, people will gather in the courtroom at the courthouse in downtown Tuesday for the last court session of November with a busy docket that includes Drug Court, sentencing, pleas, bond requests.

While mask rules are in place inside the courtroom, they often come off as too many leave and remain in proximity to those we hear coughing and sneezing while in court. I consider attending court, and covering it for The Floyd Press and — if needed – other papers in the Lee Enterprises chain — the most dangerous day faced each week.

I wear an approved mask, wash my hands frequently and maintain social distancing but even in tiny Floyd County, cases of the virus increased by more than 20 in the past week and went from just 20 to more than 300 in less than three months.

In retrospect, I was probably safer when covering the 9/11 terror attacks at the Pentagon in 2001 or in other violent trouble spots around the world in more than a half-century of news reporting and photojournalism.

“There is irony in this,” says a longtime friend from our days working out of Washington, DC. We shared more than a few dangerous situations over the years. “We’ve survived injuries and wounds from life-threatening situations and now could die form a virus we can’t see or understand.”

Perhaps, but reporting news is something I love and have done for more than 55 years. I cannot imagine a life without it and I hope I don’t have to in whatever time is left on this earth.

I also hope and pray that I will be able to photograph and see friends and acquaintances soon in sporting events at the high school or music concerts with crowds enjoying themselves if this pandemic every allows such activities in the future.

But we have to be patient and don’t rush into situations that will bring more disease, hospitalizations and death. Wife Amy and I try to avoid places where too many people ignore safety and strut around without masks.

We will celebrate Thanksgiving at home, with each other, and hope to talk with our daughter and her husband via zoom. The fact that we are all alive and surviving is reason enough to have thanks.

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