HSHS Medical Group is gearing up to see a spike in cases after holiday gatherings

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Thanksgiving will look very different than year's past due to COVID-19. Many people are faced with the same problem: to gather or not to gather with loved ones for the holidays.

"I don't think anyone wants to put someone that they love at risk, but we have to ask ourselves, 'Are we being selfish, because we want to see them?' The right thing is protecting the people that you love," James Bock M.D. at HSHS Medical group said.

Bock and other health experts are asking everyone to make the huge sacrifice this holiday season: to say no to large gatherings for Thanksgiving.

"This will be the first thanksgiving of my life without my mom and dad. But I want to see my 82 year old parents at Christmas and hopefully next thanksgiving, and I'm not going to risk losing them this thanksgiving because I'm frustrated, tired and fatigued. I think we all need to accept that delayed level of gradification," Bock said. 

Bock said that roughly 20 percent of the population is asymptomatic, and that young adults leaving and then later returning to campus could contribute to a spike in cases.

"It's the young adults who carry this asymptomatic. 'I'm fine I can go see mom, dad, grandma and grandpa.' That's what's so dangerous about a holiday like thanksgiving," Bock said.

 Bock is a part of the COVID-19 response team at HSHS. He said the aftermath could be catastrophic for hospitals with the potential influx of people contracting the virus from holiday gatherings.

"It's a struggle for us to stay a half step ahead. We need to keep our hospitals and clinics open for the people that need it regularly. We could be facing a huge problem come Christmas time if we don't get our heads around this really fast," Bock said.

Under Tier 3 Mitigations, Gov. JB Pritzker recommends that gatherings only occur with people who live in the same household and are under ten people. 

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