Thanksgiving, vaccines, masks, and the cavalry

We are a few (or several) weeks from vaccinating for COVID-19. Vaccination (the cavalry) will save lives and our economy. But we can't yet stop fighting.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its website to suggest protection from both spreading and contracting COVID by wearing a mask.

Recent studies have concluded that mask-wearing decreases the risk of contracting COVID and researchers at UCSF have proposed that masks may decrease the risk of severe disease in those who do become infected.

Mask mandates are controversial (and should not be necessary) but it is clear that mask-wearing decreases COVID transmission. More evidence comes from CDC today in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Early Release reporting on the effect of mask mandates in Kansas counties over three months this summer. Counties in which masks were mandated saw a decrease in cases, while in counties without mandates, cases increased. Stay safe and protect those around you by wearing a mask when in public.


Yesterday, the CDC recommended that Americans not travel for Thanksgiving. While not a mandate, it’s a strong recommendation. We’d take a bit more nuanced approach, based on details of travel and gathering plans.

“People get bored. But the virus doesn’t get bored,” said George Rutherford, an epidemiology professor at the University of California, San Francisco. “Put off gratification a little while longer.”

If two households are going to celebrate together, Dr. Rutherford recommends they do so outside and at two separate tables. No buffets, either. And masks should go back on right after the final bite.

An indoor buffet with several dozen people is clearly a bad idea. But having a couple of friends over for dinner, dining outside at opposite ends of a table is probably very low risk.

“The data’s becoming very clear,” said Sarah Van Orman, chief health officer for the University of Southern California Student Health, noting that a major cause of the recent surge in cases is small gatherings and, particularly, “indoor environments where people are eating, drinking and talking loudly with their face coverings off.”

Vaccines (the cavalry)

We have seen very exciting developments in vaccine production for COVID. Most recently, Pfizer has announced that they will apply today to the FDA for approval to distribute their vaccine. It’s not clear how long a review process will take, or how quickly vaccine doses will become available. But the cavalry is on the way!

“The cavalry is on the way.
You don’t stop fighting. You double down.
You keep fighting until the cavalry arrives.”
- Anthony Fauci 11/19/20

So, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!