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Families Decide On Thanksgiving Gatherings As COVID Cases Increase In Ohio

Satya Murthy
Flickr Creative Commons

The number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio has increased in the past couple of weeks. On average, 63 people in Ohio are reported to have died of COVID every day since September 1. Health officials fear it could worsen as families get together, indoors, for the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays.

A year ago – Ohio’s COVID case numbers were soaring, and hospitalizations were hitting record numbers every day. A few weeks later, the first vaccines arrived in Ohio. Now COVID shots are available for anyone over 5.

In the last few weeks, deaths are still high, and though case numbers were down, they’re starting to tick back up again.

Before the family gets together over turkey and pumpkin pie, Ohio Dept of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said it’s important to think about who is gathered around the table.

“If we are going into a high risk-risk environment, perhaps one where there are going to be many unvaccinated people, and we are particularly at risk or may be unvaccinated ourselves, I think we really need to ask, ‘Is that really the right thing to do?’”

Some Ohioans, like Jen Weber of Dublin, have already made it clear that in-person family gatherings are limited to those who are vaccinated.

"None of our relatives are hesitant to get the vaccine so everyone got vaccinated. And when everyone got vaccinated, we had a huge Father’s Day bash at our house. And we were all vaccinated and it felt so good to be able to gather and not worry," said Weber.

But Beth Cerda of Delaware is worried. She, her husband and kids are fully vaccinated but her 78-year-old mom isn’t.

"We are around people all of the time and I don’t want to be the one that feels the guilt if Mom ends up being sick. I don’t want to have to carry that," said Cerda.

For the Cyphert family near Canal Winchester, this Thanksgiving will mark a difficult day. It was the day in 2020 when Anne’s husband, David, was hospitalized with COVID. He passed away on December 17th.

“My husband died before he could get the vaccine. We can’t let this happen to our family again. Everybody has a right to their own opinions but it makes me very sad when people refuse to get the vaccination. I’ve known a lot of friends who have chose not to. Three of them are now deceased because they didn’t get the vaccination," said Anne.

Patty Huston Holm of Canal Winchester is vaccinated but she’s not getting together with human family and friends.

"Well, you know, I lost my Mom earlier this year so holidays are a bit tough so that said, Thanksgiving this year, is going to be stress free, no drama, no virus, no criticism about what my husband and I have on the table or don’t have on the table to eat, because our only guest are two amazing dogs for two families so they can travel and be with their families," said Patty.

Medical professionals say this holiday season is about managing risk, because no gathering will be 100% safe. Vanderhoff said families who do get together should open windows if possible and wear masks, and anyone who is sneezing or coughing should stay away.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.