Surgeon General: Thanksgiving Celebrations Can Be COVID-19 ‘Superspreader Events’

November 23, 2020 Updated: November 23, 2020

Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Monday said that Thanksgiving celebrations can be so-called superspreader events as he called for Americans to keep such events small and outdoors.

“I want the American people to know that we are at a dire point in our fight with this virus by any measure: cases, positivity, hospitalizations, deaths. We are seeing more Americans negatively impacted than ever before,” Adams said.

He was referring to the the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.

“But I also want Americans to understand that we’ve never had more reason for hope, thanks to the science,” Adams continued, noting that COVID-19 vaccines are expected to begin being administered next month.

“We’re going to have people, the vulnerable, vaccinated in mere weeks, so I’m asking Americans—I’m begging you—hold on just a little bit longer. Keep Thanksgiving and the celebrations small and smart this year,” he said.

People should hold Thanksgiving gatherings outside, keep the number of people under 10, and prepare beforehand by not being exposed to others in the days leading up to the gatherings, according to Adams.

Adams was speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Pressed on whether a planned Christmas celebration at the White House could turn into a “superspreader event,” Adams said, “We want everyone to understand that these holiday celebrations can be superspreader events. So we want them to be smart, and we want them to be as small as possible. But again, go to, look at those tips for everyone. These apply to the White House. They apply to the American people. They apply to everyone. We want you to stay safe so we can get to a vaccine.”

Superspreader events are events where a few people infected with COVID-19 spread the malady to a larger number of people with whom they have contact.

The White House is holding its traditional Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations, First Lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham confirmed, with “the safest environment possible.”

“This includes smaller guest lists, masks will be required and available, social distancing encouraged while on the White House grounds, and hand sanitizer stations throughout the State Floor,” she said in a statement to news outlets. “Guests will enjoy food individually plated by chefs at Plexiglass-protected food stations. All passed beverages will be covered. All service staff will wear masks and gloves to comply with food safety guidelines.”

A number of federal health officials have asked Americans to consider holding Thanksgiving events virtually instead of in-person because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official told reporters last week that the agency is recommending against travel during the holiday period.

“The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members is coming to this family gathering and they could end up severely ill, hospitalized, or dying. And we don’t want that to happen. These times are tough, it’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months, and we understand people are tired,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said during a telebriefing.

“We understand that people want to see their family and relatives and do it as they’ve always done it. But this year we’re asking them to limit their travel.”

Health Secretary Alex Azar has also spoken about recommendations to stay home.

“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people you live with and through virtual celebrations. Gathering indoors with people who aren’t members of your household is a high-risk activity for spreading the virus,” he said during a recent event.

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