While COVID-19 is an unwelcome guest at any Thanksgiving celebration, no one would feel the effects of a post-holiday surge in cases as much as the frontline healthcare workers who would need to treat the influx of patients.

In a joint statement, the Medical Society of New Jersey CEO Larry Downs, New Jersey Hospital Association president and CEO Cathy Bennett, and New Jersey State Nurses Association CEO Judith Schmidt looked to history to offer suggested precautions for the holiday season:

A century ago, Americans weary of the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic marked Thanksgiving with parades and parties. In some cities, throngs of people gathered in a ceremonial tossing away of their gauze facemasks, believing that they had survived the worst of the outbreak.

And what happened next? Influenza deaths skyrocketed in December, ending that deadly year with even greater losses.

As we enter the 2020 holiday season, we cannot allow history to repeat itself. New COVID-19 cases are reaching nearly 4,000 daily, the highest levels in New Jersey since the peak last April. This is no time to let down our guard on the precautions that help keep us, and the people around us, safe.

For New Jersey’s physicians, nurses, and 140,000 employees of New Jersey hospitals, COVID-19 doesn’t take a holiday. These selfless professionals are our greatest resource in fighting this pandemic, and they are irreplaceable. They serve on the pandemic’s frontlines each day, through Diwali, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s. And they too have parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren who they long to celebrate with.

The very best way you can thank our healthcare heroes is to follow the personal precautions that can stop the spread of COVID-19. Keep your holiday events small —fewer than 10 people. Gather outdoors if possible. Social distance. Wear facemasks. Wash your hands frequently. And by all means, stay home if you are sick.

Good health is one of life’s greatest blessings. Let’s all show our gratitude to the men and women of New Jersey’s healthcare community by doing what we can to help protect it.



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