Coronavirus Digital Discussion: Thanksgiving and COVID-19


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – As Thanksgiving gets closer, the number of COVID-19 cases is going up here and across the nation. Public health officials are warning a large number of guests around the table Thursday could translate to a large number in the hospital for Christmas.

Dr. Anhtai Nguyen, Chief Clinical Officer for Bon Secours Hampton Roads, told, “The situation is very serious. You can see the number of cases have accelerated very quickly across the nation.”

As college students come home and different households come together for Thanksgiving, Dr. Nguyen fears we will experience a surge much like Canada did after that country’s Thanksgiving celebrations in October.

“Before the Thanksgiving for them they were averaging about 2,000 cases a day. Right now, I think that number is over 4,000-5,000 per day and the projection’s going to be probably to 20,000 plus in December,” he said.

Nguyen says Hampton Roads hospitals started to see an increase in patients on Friday. According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, ICU occupancy is at 73% across the commonwealth as of Nov. 23. Not all are COVID-19 cases. In fact, Nguyen said the majority are not, and no designated COVID-19 surge beds are in use at this time.

Ventilator use is also up since Friday, according to Dr. Nguyen. It is nowhere near what it was in the spring, though, as doctors are now treating patients with other therapies and medication. This has also decreased hospital stays and the mortality rate. However, Nguyen said, “at the end of the day one mortality is for me just too much. When you have a loved one with this virus infection, you don’t want your family member to have a bad outcome.”

That is why he implores everyone to continue to use the three W’s:

  • Wear a mask
  • Watch your distance
  • Wash your hands — frequently

“I’m not sure that’s the risk anybody should be taking based on so many unknowns right now about this virus,” he said.

He also suggested, if you are going to have guests for Thanksgiving, eat outside or if you have to be indoors, open windows and keep your HVAC system on continuous circulation. Those who have already contracted coronavirus are not in the clear either he said, because they just don’t know yet if you could still spread it or get it again.

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