Pass the stuffing on Zoom this year

Celebrate Thanksgiving differently, Baker says

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER urged Massachusetts residents to celebrate Thanksgiving differently this year, limiting any gatherings to people you live with or with whom you are regularly in contact.

Any bigger gathering, the governor’s top COVID advisor said, should be done remotely. “You could actually Zoom Thanksgiving with your family and friends across the country,” said Marylou Sudders, the secretary of health and human services.

Baker and Sudders said the science is clear that a traditional Thanksgiving, with people gathering indoors for most of the day to eat, watch football, and eat some more, is not appropriate during COVID. Sudders called it “the worst possible scenario for spreading the virus.”

If a gathering does extend beyond immediate family, Sudders urged attendees to wear masks when not eating or drinking, to limit food preparation to as few people as possible, to avoid serving food buffet style, to open doors and windows to bring in fresh air, and to have guests bring their own food and drink.

The new guidance comes as the number of COVID-19 infections keeps rising, particularly among people under 30. At a State House press conference, Baker highlighted what has been known for some time, that the population infected with COVID-19 has shifted dramatically. In April, he said, people over 60 accounted for 42 percent of infections and those under 30 accounted for 15 percent. Today, the percentages have flipped. The over-60 age group accounts for 18 percent of those infected and the under-30 group accounts for 37 percent.

In late August, the Baker administration began focusing on COVID spread among individual communities across the state. Now the administration is preparing to dig deeper into clusters of cases occurring within communities.

Sudders said there were 1,216 new cases on Monday. Of the total, she said, 25 came from long term care facilities, 25 from higher ed facilities, 34 from houses of worship, 36 from social clubs, 538 from 19 of the state’s high-risk communities, and 558 were not traced to any particular cluster.

Sudders said a number of cases were traced to the Elks Club and the Pleasant Park Yacht Club. in Winthrop and the Crossroads Community Church in Fitchburg, which was sanctioned for opening the church for retreats.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Hockey rinks across the state were shut down for two weeks after 110 cases emerged in 30 clusters. The shutdown, running through November 7, was precipitated by resistance by adults to efforts to track down the causes of the outbreaks. Baker said many teams refused to provide rosters of players and many adults refused to cooperate with contact tracers, a situation that the governor’s aides said would soon be rectified

Baker said it appears the spread of cases occurred as adults gathered in groups during the course of a day of watching hockey games. “It’s about a lot more than time on the ice,” Baker said.