Blog: Not a Normal Thanksgiving

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Not a Normal Thanksgiving - Monday, November 30, 2020
Like this year as a whole, this Thanksgiving deviated far from the norm.

Coronavirus cases across many parts of the world are on an exponential rise, with the US topping the list at around 150-180k new cases on a daily basis now. 51 out of California's 58 counties are now back in the purple tier, and the state has a curfew from 10pm-5am, effective until December 21 but likely to be extended, during which non-essential work and gatherings are prohibited. And authorities have been asking the public to not get together with people outside their immediate household during Thanksgiving. The fear is that widespread travel will cause a surge in the infection rate.

Priscilla and I still wanted to see our families and deemed the risk acceptable since most of us have just been staying at home. We decided to see Priscilla's parents first since they're older and more at risk than mine. Since we always go down on Thanksgiving Day, this meant that we had Thanksgiving dinner with Priscilla's parents instead of the traditional dinner that my parents make. So instead of turkey, we had Peking duck! We got it and a couple other dishes from a nearby place called Tasty Duck (the food was ok).

On Friday, we found out that LA County was prohibiting gathering between people from separate households, effective the following Monday. No worries, we thought, since Monday was the day we were planning to return home. We stayed at Priscilla's parents' place for two nights and then the plan was to stay at my parents' place the next two nights. But on Saturday, we found out that effective 12:01am Monday, Santa Clara County is requiring that people traveling from 150+ miles away must quarantine for 14 days. This cutoff seems completely arbitrary and the 14-day quarantine seems too heavy-handed for Priscilla's and my situation, but we wanted to be above board for the sake of Priscilla's workplace since she needs to work from the office four days a week. So we decided that it would be best to leave Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately we had no time to see Aaron and his family, but it probably wouldn't have been a good idea anyway because one of his kids is sick with the cold.

We had enough time to eat three meals with my parents, and I was also able to fix my dad's old computer (turns out his motherboard and two sticks of RAM were bad). My mom of course made a ton of food for us to bring back with us.

In terms of driving, the drive down was surprisingly fast. We started heading down at 7:40am on Thursday, and except for a couple very minor slowdowns, traffic was relatively light the whole way - way better than in previous years. The drive back up on Sunday took 6 hours due to several slowdowns. Sunday is the busiest day after Thanksgiving to travel, so 6 hours is definitely better than it would've been in previous years. The drive up was very tiring, so we were just glad to get home.

This morning, my mom informed us that a patient with whom she interacted at her workplace has tested positive for the virus, making it the 4th infection identified there during the pandemic. My mom had gloves and a mask on when interacting with the patient, so she's probably fine, but she'll be testing in a few days. As it doesn't sound like Priscilla and I were directly exposed, Priscilla's workplace is fine with her going back to the office after getting a negative test (a general policy that was put in place for the holiday for any employees traveling out of the county), as long as my mom does not test positive. Fun times. This is the kind of thing that health experts were cautioning about, though the orders are probably aimed more at people who aren't exercising caution.

I don't think that life should stop because of the pandemic. Just about everything we individuals do carries some level of risk, yet we have learned to live our lives while unconsciously accepting calculated risk. With the pandemic, we should be able to see our family as long as people are acting responsibly and keeping others safe - and from everything I've seen, we definitely need a lot more of that. Lockdowns can only get us so far without personal responsibility.