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Regional Hospitals: Rethink Thanksgiving for a COVID-Safe Holiday

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The following is an open letter to the public regarding COVID-19 and the upcoming holiday season. 

“We’ve heard it time and time again – we need to wear masks, maintain social distance, wash our hands and avoid large gatherings – but as evidenced by our ever-growing case numbers, COVID-19 fatigue has set in across our community. As we enter the holiday season, it’s time to redouble our efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay, even if that means rethinking the way we celebrate special occasions in 2020.

We are rapidly approaching a quarter million deaths from COVID-19 across the country. These are loved ones who will never get married, see their children graduate from college, or hold their grandchildren. We’ve become numb to the numbers and allowed other global news to grab our attention, but we cannot lose sight of the urgency of this pandemic.

For many, the idea of creating social bubbles has given us a false sense of security. The size of our bubbles has grown as people become fatigued by the sacrifices forced by COVID-19. The reality is that it’s almost impossible to keep most bubbles pure. People often come into close contact with those who are COVID-19 positive but asymptomatic, which is one way COVID-19 spreads from bubble to bubble and across entire communities. Infection numbers in our community continue to rise, as our public health officials have confirmed, and COVID-19 will become a significant issue as we enter the holiday season.

We need to act now and recommit to the bold steps we already know will save lives right here in our community. It’s time to rethink Thanksgiving celebrations being planned for this year. Rather than traditional large holiday fests with friends and family, consider a smaller gathering with your immediate household. Plan gatherings outside if the weather permits. Or use technology to safely connect with friends and loved ones.

We’ve seen the damage COVID-19 can cause as we gather together. Canada foretells a cautionary tale as COVID-19 case counts are climbing across Canada, even in areas under new restrictions. Evidence supports Canadian public health officials citing their Thanksgiving holiday, which took place on the second Monday of October, as the reason for the spike.

Now think about the loved ones and friends you want to invite to your Thanksgiving table. The right choice this year will increase the odds that those you love will still be around to join you next Thanksgiving and many more to come.

As health leaders dedicated to serving Southern New Hampshire and the Seacoast, our plea is simple: put the safety of your family and community first, as an act of love and gratitude for everyone you care about.

One more thing: don’t forget to wear a mask every time you leave your home. Practice social distancing when you are at work, school or socializing with others. Regularly wash your hands with soap and water, and when you can’t use hand sanitizer. These three simple measures have saved tens of thousands of lives. If everyone sticks with them, they will save hundreds of thousands more.

The time to commit is now. Your own life and those whom you love are depending on it.”

Jeff Scionti, CEO Frisbie Memorial Hospital
John Skevington, CEO Parkland Medical Center
Dean Carucci, CEO Portsmouth Regional Hospital

Frisbie Memorial Hospital, Parkland Medical Center, and Portsmouth Regional Hospital are members of HCA Healthcare, one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services. HCA Healthcare is comprised of more than 180 hospitals and 2000+ sites of care in 21 states and the United Kingdom.

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