Danny De Gracia: Holiday Gatherings Aren't Worth The Risk This Year - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

As COVID-19 cases explode across the United States, public health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called for restraint in holiday gatherings.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, also warned late last month that Thanksgiving celebrations could result in asymptomatic people rapidly spreading COVID-19.

A computer simulation developed by Georgia Tech called the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Tool estimates that Honolulu residents have a 4% chance of encountering an infected person at events of 10 people or less. At gatherings of 25, that number jumps to 10%. When more than 50 people get together, there is a 19% chance of interacting with someone with the virus.

Honolulu, which is currently under Tier 2 restrictions, limits locals to social gatherings of not more than five people. However, the spirit of going one’s own way is very much alive in Oahu, as residents are flouting directives and continuing to get infected. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, residents need to know that while it may be tempting to cheat the Tier 2 and national recommendations on gatherings, doing so just isn’t worth getting others sick or hospitalized.

Decals outside shops at Kahala Mall remind customers about 6-foot social distancing during COVID-19 pandemic. May 20, 2020
If you attend a gathering with 25 people in Honolulu, there’s a 10% change you will interact with someone with COVID-19, according to a new data tool from Georgia Tech. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

One may say that locals “just want this to be over” and are tired of being told about masks and social distancing. Being told to scale back Thanksgiving has been interpreted by some as the last straw in a long list of intolerable decrees, and there are more than a few who think the government is out to cancel Thanksgiving.

But with Oahu having made so much progress and having come so far, my question is this: Do we really want to undermine all the progress we’ve made and face the threat of more deaths and a larger shutdown?

Make Thanksgiving Work Safely

As I have mentioned previously, COVID-19 is no laughing matter. On the mainland, many of my friends and family have been infected with the coronavirus and two of my childhood friends have already died from it. No one enjoys living under pandemic emergency orders, and being micromanaged on what one can or cannot do is annoying. But there is no reason why we should fixate on the worst of this and not leverage opportunities to make the best of things in the middle of the pandemic.

There is a certain segment of society, and perhaps you may know some of them, who have to take everything to the absolute extreme. They believe that when the government says that having Thanksgiving dinner with groups outside of your home is a COVID-19 risk, this equates to taking away traditional American values. Nonsense. If you must eat a turkey with people, then cook your own turkey and eat it with your immediate household.

Even with COVID-19 restrictions, there are lots of ways to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

There is nothing to stop you from being thankful for having made it this far and still being alive – which was exactly the point of the original Thanksgiving – and sharing your time with a tight group of family or friends in-person. There is no one to prevent you from doing a Zoom or FaceTime call with multiple friends and families and all celebrating Thanksgiving remotely.

When you think about it, even with COVID-19 restrictions, there are still many ways to connect, encourage, and celebrate with people without putting others and yourself at risk for infection.

We need to change our mindset and recognize that COVID-19 is still a threat that is very much raging around us. Oahu has come down from a very tumultuous summer of coronavirus cases and we were fortunate that a combination of leadership changes, federal interventions, and a very dedicated local health care industry rose up to push COVID-19 back down.

We should not be lulled into a false sense of security and let up our guard. Stay the course, keep your gatherings legal and small, and keep fighting COVID-19 until it is gone. We have to make this work, not because we want to, but because it is the right thing to do.

We can all armchair admiral how local police supposedly have not been proactive enough, or how Gov. David Ige didn’t act fast enough to stop the coronavirus, or even how we dropped the ball because of economic interests. But the simple fact of the matter is that Oahu residents have to be responsible for stopping the spread of COVID-19 because this is a human disease and humans are the ones who must fight it.

This Thanksgiving, don’t fight or politicize the health recommendations. Work with them. If we are tired of fighting a war that has only been in Hawaii since February, that bodes terrifying consequences for how our society will respond to future challenges or threats. We have to encourage one another, we have to strengthen our collective willpower, and we are going to have to adapt to COVID-19 if we want to survive this pandemic.

Read this next:

VIRUS TRACKER -- Nov. 16: 95 New COVID-19 Cases

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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

Latest Comments (0)

Folks...the US Constitution is the law of the land.  Don't forget that!  It guarantees the right to assemble.  No caveats, no parsing of regulation of a right, no mention of "except in cases where".Our democrat party in our state feels that the Constitution is too inconvenient in some cases to get what they want, when they want it and in what quantity.  If you like all da aunties and uncles and tutus and friends over for a celebration...no proclamation can stop you.WE are a free nation, lending our power to reps.  The overreach, authoritarianism, scientism, leftism, invasivity, and every other adjective to define "not cool dude" has got to stop.  Nuf awreddy!  You the "leaders" have shown that you have no ideas, you have no concern for liberty and freedom, and you have no concern about the politi outside of a vote for you.Fine.  Own it.  Don't try to fake us out that you are not statist.

Ranger_MC · 2 years ago

How about all the folks who don't accept the risk not attend holiday gatherings; and all the folks who accept the risk attend holiday gatherings in a responsible manner.Something else to consider about these politicians or 'leaders' attempting to dictate more and more control over people's personal lives is that they are hypocrites. For one example, google "Newsom French Laundry."  'Rules for thee, not for me.'

pueobeach · 2 years ago

It is one thing if one could say 'I can trust what the authorities say about all this'. But that is not where we are at with the public-government trust right now. People are ticked off and feeling like, as you said Danny: " Being told to scale back Thanksgiving has been interpreted by some as the last straw in a long list of intolerable decrees, and there are more than a few who think the government is out to cancel Thanksgiving." We were told "15 days to tap the virus down". We were told by government that this would be what was needed from us. We went ahead and stomached that...And then we were told "another 15 days"And then "another 30 days"And then "we open up, we shut down"And then "we can't get you the money you desperately need to live because we have an unemployment computer system developed by Fred Flintstone and it has not been upgraded...*sorry*"So now we are on day 237 of all of this, and while we see lights at the end of the tunnel here....the amount of trust anyone has in the government getting us to those lights is very very very low. So saying "listen to the experts"....you might need to acknowledge that trust is hard to earn by these "experts". 

Kana_Hawaii · 2 years ago

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