The pandemic has put pressure on local families to temporarily suspend their usual gatherings in the name of health and safety, though it certainly has not been easy, and in fact family get-togethers have been a major source of virus spread in Cameron County.
It won’t be any easier this Thanksgiving, which is why Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. held a press conference Monday to remind everyone what’s at stake and plead for residents to adhere to COVID-19 safety precautions if they do insist on getting together.
The county’s total number of cases since Nov. 13 increased by 612, from 24,895 to 25,507 as of Nov. 20. Eleven more residents died during that period, bringing the total to 1,110 virus-related deaths. New cases numbers have been ticking up, from 45 to 50 cases each day over the last several weeks into the 70s and 80s more recently and 111 on Nov. 20, Treviño said. It’s still in the manageable range, at least for the time being, he said.
“It’s certainly not great but it’s certainly not terrible,” Treviño said.
The county lifted its emergency curfew on Nov. 13, though the judge said it will be reimposed immediately if the number of new cases climbs too high. Bars and restaurants remain open with restrictions.
“Up in Webb County… they’ve already closed bars and reduced the business occupancy due to hospitalizations and case count,” Treviño said. “We’re not there yet but we could be.”
Whether Cameron County has a curfew again depends on everyone doing their part of containg the spread of the virus, he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising families to skip Thanksgiving this year in order not to spread the virus. For families that insist on getting together with other members outside their own households, Treviño said, it’s important to remember not to kiss cheeks, to maintain social distancing and wear facial coverings.
The big event is best enjoyed out of doors to help avoid sickening family and friends and turning Thanksgiving into a spreader event, he said.
“If you’re going to somebody’s home for Thanksgiving please keep it to 10 people or less,” Treviño said. “Wear your masks at all times over the nose. Wearing it below the nose is like not wearing it at all.”
He pointed out that the virus can be spread by people who show no symptoms. Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Keep hand sanitizer handy and use it. Bring meal items already prepared. Family members should bring their own cups, plates and utensils. Use individual condiment containers. Stay out of the kitchen if you’re not involved in food preparation.
“Have a conversation ahead of time to set your expectations,” Treviño said.
He acknowledged that 2020 has been a year of sacrifice for everyone — and tragedy for many — but said it’s necessary to continue sacrificing to get through the pandemic. Distribution of a vaccine to the general public is months away at best, Treviño said.
“Tell your relatives from out of the area, don’t come home right now,” he said. “We want everybody to be able to celebrate the right way next year.”