Thanksgiving is canceled. That was the reaction by some on social media after Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration banned gatherings of more than two households at a time for the next couple of weeks.
Of course, that doesn’t mean people can’t or won’t celebrate the holiday while following the state’s order. But it definitely puts a damper on plans many Michiganders have made. People may be disappointed, but there are plenty of reasons to believe family gatherings around the holidays could accelerate infections at a time when cases are already skyrocketing. Just across the Detroit River, Canadians celebrated their own Thanksgiving in the second week of October. Provincial and national leaders now blame family gatherings at that time for a major spike in cases.
Listen: How Canada’s October Holiday COVID Spike Could Be A Lesson for Americans Going Into Thanksgiving
Amanda Coletta is a reporter covering Canada for the Washington Post. “The numbers on how many of those cases are directly tied to Thanksgiving are not readily available because testing and contact tracing is so overwhelmed,” says Coletta of the spike in COVID cases in Canada.
She does note however, that “COVID cases started ticking upwards before Thanksgiving… sort of similar to what we are seeing in the U.S.,” so while Thanksgiving may have accelerated the spread, it was happening before that. While the total numbers are difficult to quantify, Coletta says that in a suburb outside of Toronto, officials said at least 13 cases of COVID were tied to a Thanksgiving gathering.
As far as the general differences between the U.S. and Canada when it comes to the pandemic, Coletta notes the most infectious disease experts would characterize Canada’s response as “middle of the road,” while the American response has been called one of the worst-handled countries. Coletta says that the U.S. has about four times the number of COVID cases as Canada and about twice the number of deaths from COVID-19.