Gov. Andrew Cuomo is concerned about a potential spike in positive COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving, pointing to human nature and the desire to gather with friends and family for the holidays.
New regulations took effect last Friday, November 15, that limit the size of gatherings in private homes to 10 people or less in New York state. Thanksgiving will be a major test for New Yorkers to see if they can resist gathering together indoors, as a new wave of COVID cases hits parts of Western New York and other areas upstate.
County sheriffs in Fulton, Erie and Saratoga counties have publicly stated they do not intend to enforce those restrictions in their communities next week. The governor admitted Wednesday it is hard to enforce such regulations, but added that large gatherings should be ignored if officers do see them happening.
“You will see a tremendous spike after Thanksgiving. A tremendous spike,” Cuomo said. There is no data; no health commissioner said this. It’s just my personal opinion. Why? Because Thanksgiving is a holiday where you come together. If you don’t have a real fear about COVID, you’re going to come together.”
Referring to a difficult conversation with his own mother who was hoping to celebrate with the governor, his siblings and their own children next week, Cuomo is urging families to resist the temptation to hold family gatherings.
“You know what love is? It’s saying ‘I love you so much, and I’m so thankful for you, I’m not going to see you,'” Cuomo said.
There are currently 12 “focus zones” in New York state where special temporary restrictions are limiting business hours, schools and travel. As of Monday, Nov. 16, the average positivity rate for all of those zones combined is 4.73 percent. Outside of those focus zones, the statewide positivity rate is 3.10 percent, among the lowest in the nation, according to data from John Hopkins University.
But the governor acknowledges that some people have a false sense of confidence because of New York’s currently low numbers, or they don’t believe they can catch the virus from a family member or close friend.
“ [The idea of ] your family sounds safe. Your home sounds safe. Your dining room table at Thanksgiving’ sounds safe,” Cuomo said. “No, you won’t be safe. It’s an illusion.
“My sister loves me. [But] my sister could infect me, not maliciously, but accidentally,” Cuomo continued. “It’s counter-intuitive. What I thought was the safest situation, ‘my home at Thanksgiving’ …… that’s a dangerous situation.”
Cuomo pointed to the skyrocketing number of COVID cases in Canada in the last few weeks following their Thanksgiving holiday, which was celebrated on October 12.
“Canada, after Thanksgiving, number went right up,” Cuomo said. “It’s going to happen because it’s human behavior. I hear it with my own family.”
The Governor’s Office is keeping an eye on Western New York, which saw a positivity rate of 6.5 percent on Monday, up from 5.6 percent on Saturday. The Mid-Hudson region and Central New York are also showing an upward trend in positivity rates of those tested, at 4.3 and 4.5 percent, respectively.
The number of COVID-related hospitalizations in New York on Wednesday is 2,202 and there were 35 COVID-related deaths in New York on Tuesday.
“Living room spread is the new problem and it will get worse after Thanksgiving,” Cuomo said. “You will see dramatic action, and then it’s going to get worse, because what comes next – Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanzaa.”
Image courtesy of the Governor’s Office