November 4, 2020 -- As people in the United States plan for Thanksgiving, they might want to pay attention to what happened to their neighbors to the north.
Canada celebrated its own Thanksgiving on Oct. 12 -- and experienced a spike in coronavirus cases afterwards.
Canada has reported 244,000 coronavirus cases and 10,000 deaths overall -- small numbers compared to the United States -- but health authorities are worried because cases surged during the second half of October.
“The leading source of exposures for active cases right now are close contacts, and many of the cases that we are seeing now are the result of spread over Thanksgiving when families gathered together,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, told CTV.
“People did not mean to spread COVID, but it is a reminder where social gatherings where social distancing and masking are not used consistently are a significant risk for spread.”
On Tuesday, CTV said Ontario health officials reported the highest one-day number of new cases yet -- 1,050. The old record was 1,042, set Oct. 25.
“The number of people experiencing severe illness contnues to increase,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, warned in a Monday statement. She urged Canadians to be more vigilant in health safety practices.
An average of 1,107 people with coronavirus were treated each day during the period from Oct. 23-29), she said, with an average of 30 people dying daily of coronavirus-related reasons.
As the holiday approached, Canadian health officials had urged citizens to wear masks, practice social distancing, and avoid big family gatherings for Thanksgiving.
Their American counterparts have done the same -- and hope such measures do something to reduce a surge of cases in the United States. The country is heading toward having more than 100,000 new cases in a day.
For Thanksgiving, the CDC recommends small dinners with people who live in your household. Shopping online is recommended over going to stores. If larger groups congregate, it should happen outside, the CDC says.
High risk activities to be avoided include shopping in crowded stores, running or watching a crowded race, attending parades, using drugs or alcohol that can cloud your judgment, and attending large indoor activities with people from outside your household.