HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Celebrating Thanksgiving in a pandemic could spell disaster for many families.
William Bernstein of Virginia Beach is playing it safe this year.
“This virus is not a joke and some people don’t take it seriously,” Bernstein said.
Bernstein has cancelled his Thanksgiving travel plans to Oakwood, Georgia to visit his 77-year-old mother and aunt.
“My mother being older, and down in Georgia they don’t have the restrictions we do; they don’t have the mask policy,” he said. “I didn’t want to take a risk just yet to go down there as much as I love my mom.”
Bernstein is just one of many people changing plans this holiday.
Because of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the CDC is now urging everyone not to travel for Thanksgiving and to stay at home and celebrate with immediate family.
For Bernstein, the strong guidance means dinner for one.
“I’m staying put and doing uber eats,” he said. “I’m going to get a lobster tail at Red Lobster and that is going to be me, myself and I Thanksgiving. It’s just going to be safe.”
This year, Bernstein will be continuing a holiday tradition with his mother Aileen when he can’t visit. He’ll be doing a video call with her, so they both feel closer to one another and not alone.
“It’s been a tradition when I can’t go down there, even before the pandemic, I would do video calls with her because her and I are very close and there’s no one like your mother,” said Bernstein.
Dr. Kurt Hooks, CEO of the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center, said being alone doesn’t need to mean feeling lonely.
“There’s going to be a lot more lonely individuals during what is traditionally a very social and hopeful and positive time,” Hooks said.
As families decide how to spend Thanksgiving, Hooks recommends connecting with loved ones or neighbors virtually and remembering the spirit of the holiday.
“Maybe reach out and check in, see what their plans are, see if they’re okay,” said Hooks. “If we can take an opportunity to think about the things we can be grateful for and maybe reframe a little bit and focus on some of those things.”
Meantime as Bernstein holds off on his Thanksgiving travel plans for now, he’ll be passing the time playing his beloved piano and bringing people closer together through music.
Bernstein said, “We just need to do our part to stay safe and just hold it out a little.”