Thanksgiving travel the ‘X factor’ of COVID-19 expectations for Cuomo

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With millions of people already filing through New York airports, Governor Andrew Cuomo believes the state could see a 20 percent increase its infection rate, which is currently at 2.5 percent.

As such, his administration is sharing the recommendation of both the Trump administration and advisers for President-elect Joe Biden, who say that households that have already been isolating together should keep it that way for Thanksgiving and the holidays.

“I don’t believe it’s about government enforcement; we have 98 percent mask compliance not because government decided, but because people decided to do it,” Cuomo said. “More people on planes, more people on the road, more people shopping, more people going to people’s homes. Let’s say that increases the virus 20 percent above the current rate of increase, just a projection, that’s where we wind up. [If] people are more reckless, could the 20 percent be higher? Yes.”

Cuomo was resolute in stating that law enforcement would not be issuing summonses for families who have gatherings under 10 people. He concluded his Tuesday press conferences with the distribution of turkeys from the state.

“I saw this little cartoon of me looking in your window on Thanksgiving,” Cuomo added. “I’m not looking into your window on Thanksgiving.”

With lines at urgent care facilities being hours-long endeavors for people hoping to be safe in their travels, the Cuomo administration believes this could be a dangerous approach as well.

“At this point, what you see is more concentrated areas within ZIP codes, and of course we’re watching the city as a whole. The big X factor is Thanksgiving,” Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said. “The even scarier part is that last week, the CDC put out a report that said 24 percent of people who give COVID to someone else never develop symptoms and 35 percent are pre-symptomatic.”

Governor Cuomo has been leaning on the message that restraint over the holidays should be dedicated to essential workers who died of COVID-19, many of whom were hospital staff working directly with those who were infected. Over 130 of those essential workers were MTA employees.

The MTA, despite sorely needing the money after a mass exodus from mass transit left them dealing with deficits in the billions, is telling people to stay home as well.

“With COVID-19 cases dramatically increasing around the country, we are encouraging the public to restrict travel this Thanksgiving during this once-in-a-hundred-year public health crisis,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye said in a statement. “We are also reminding those who must travel about the urgent necessity of wearing masks while riding on public transportation. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the law.”

According to the Transportation Security Administration, 1 million boarded planes on Sunday, marking the highest traffic through American airports since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic apart from the tally from Oct. 18.