The daily news reports are a stark reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Consistent with experts’ fears for the fall, new cases are on the rise across the US and in Europe.
Caught in the grips of this unprecedented public health crisis for almost all of 2020, Americans are growing fatigued and restless. The lockdowns in the spring and the extended period of social distancing needed to keep the virus at bay are negatively impacting people’s mental health. For many, it is the lack of touch, a simple hug, that we miss the most.
And this is the time of year when we start looking to Thanksgiving to reunite with family and loved ones, a time often celebrated with large gatherings, extended celebrations and warm embraces. But, at a time when cases are once again surging across the country, each of these activities presents a serious risk for virus transmission. This risk comes at even greater cost for the lung cancer community given the increased likelihood of severe disease and heightened mortality for lung cancer patients who contract COVID-19.
Recently, several health experts have weighed in on how best to approach the holiday to ensure maximal safety. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has suggested Americans need to strongly weigh the risk-benefit of having Thanksgiving gatherings. In places or states with a high number of new cases, some experts even advise canceling (or at least postponing) this year’s celebration. You can check each state’s COVID-19 new case activity here. While we all feel the need to be close to our loved ones at this time of year especially, we want to urge all of you to do your homework and take appropriate precautions to protect yourselves and those around you. You can use a risk calculator to decide the level of risk. To assist with your planning, the CDC also provides a list of Thanksgiving activities at different risk levels. The table below offers example activities at different risk levels for virus spread.
|LOW RISK||MODERATE RISK||HIGHER RISK|
|–Having a small dinner with people who live in the same household|
–Having a virtual dinner with your loved ones and make it fun by sharing recipes
–Preparing special family recipes and delivering them in a safe and contact-free fashion
|Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community while maintaining social distancing||Attending indoor gatherings with people from outside your householdAttending large indoor celebrations with singing or chanting|
|Watching a sporting event in a virtual get-together||Attending a small outdoors sports event where public health precautions are maintained||Attending a crowded sports event, even if it’s outdoors|
|Watching all Thanksgiving events (parade, sports) from home||Attending a pumpkin patch or orchard where people are following public health precautionsHaving a small group outdoor, open-air parade with social distancing||Attending or participating in crowded parades|
|Shopping online after Thanksgiving||Going shopping in crowded stores around Thanksgiving holiday|
We realize that celebrating the holidays is an important part of our tradition. We, therefore, suggest that you identify an inner circle of family and friends (your social distancing crew) who will be taking precautions with you during the holidays so you can celebrate safely! The holidays can be stressful, and with the pandemic adding a new layer of stress, do not forget to take care of your mental health.
How can you vote safely during the pandemic?
Election day is coming, and it’s important to make your voice heard. If you’re concerned about how to vote safely during a pandemic, Consumer Reports offers a Guide to Voting During a Pandemic that covers several different approaches to voting. The CDC has also issued special COVID-19 safety recommendations for voters. Many of their suggestions are familiar by now; however, the CDC also discusses additional precautions specifically for in-person voting. Some examples:
- Avoid delays by verifying your voter info and having any necessary registration forms ready.
- Bring your own black pen (or stylus, if used in your precinct).
- Review a sample ballot in advance so you can vote and depart quickly.
- Use early voting, if available in your jurisdiction.
- Vote at off-peak times, such as mid-morning.
- If driving to the polls and your schedule allows, monitor the voter line from your car and join it when it’s shorter.
Resources and websites
- IASLC’s Guide to COVID-19 and Lung Cancer
- The National Cancer Institute has a special website for COVID-19 and emergency preparedness. COVID-19: What People with Cancer Should Know
- We are following updates provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Resource Center
- Interactive map of US COVID-19 cases by state
- COVID-19 in patients with cancer: managing a pandemic within a pandemic
- You can find information specific to your state or city or town on your health department’s website.
- American Medical Association resources for healthcare providers.