Subdued celebrations curb viral spread in Jefferson County

Posted 11/25/20

COVID-19 has upended turkey time around the table throughout the United States as state and federal health officials warn against large gatherings to help prevent a massive spike in coronavirus …

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Subdued celebrations curb viral spread in Jefferson County


COVID-19 has upended turkey time around the table throughout the United States as state and federal health officials warn against large gatherings to help prevent a massive spike in coronavirus infections.

Officials at the local, state and federal level, as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week, have asked people to curtail their holiday travel plans, limit the size of family celebrations, or gather online instead.

Local leaders are taking the advice to heart, and they shared how they are changing their holiday plans.

Mike Glenn, Jefferson Healthcare’s CEO, said he will be staying home close to family this year.

"My plan is to stay home, with my immediate family,” Glenn said in an email to The Leader. “We usually celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents and great uncle in Olympia.”

“The thought I would like to share is to encourage/plead with all residents of Jefferson County to do the same,” he continued. “If we all recommit to doing the things we know curb disease spread — like masking, washing our hands, social distancing and perhaps most important, avoiding all group gatherings outside of our family bubble — we will get through this,” he added.

Port Townsend City Manager John Mauro, who relocated to Port Townsend around this time last year, recalled his first Thanksgiving in town.

“We gathered with some of our friends from out-of-town, my mother-in-law from out of state, and some of our neighbors at our place and had the traditional feast,” Mauro said.

“This year we had hoped to either have my mother-in-law here from Pennsylvania or visit my dad in Maine, as I haven't even seen my dad since I moved back from New Zealand. Unfortunately, all those plans have been called off.

“Instead, we'll be gathering as a three-person household and hoping to livestream some of our family dinner experiences with our wider family and friends,” he said.

Mauro said a tradition, started by his wife, will be carried on virtually this year due to the pandemic. 

“A certain former president wrote a book called ‘Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.’ We take turns reading each page of this book that poignantly recognizes the meaningful contributions of noteworthy and important Americans over the course of our history,” Mauro said. “As we sit in a quieter house, consider the devastating impacts of COVID on our health, economy and social connections as well as find ourselves in this confusing federal leadership transition, those passages will likely have quite a bit more impact and relevance than previous years."

Shirley Moss, manager of the Port Townsend Food Bank, will be celebrating 50 years as a vegetarian at the end of November. She acknowledged the irony given her considerable efforts to continually keep non-vegetarian proteins on the shelves of the Food Bank, and said her plans include a small and simple celebration.

“I’m going to buy food from 1-2-3 Thai on the 25th and I’m going to have that as leftovers for Thanksgiving,” she said. “My partner does eat meat and he’ll eat Thai food also.”

“It’s funny how hard I work to get proteins into the food bank.”

Steve King, public works director for Port Townsend, said his Thanksgiving plans might very well include what some might consider an extreme level of social distancing as he continues to learn the ropes of his new 22-foot sailboat.

"I am going to be doing Thanksgiving alone and if the weather is good, I might go out sailing or throw out some crab pots," King said.

"It's just going to be a day on my own and enjoying Port Townsend's beautiful environment and I hope it's not blowing too hard,” he said.

Port of Port Townsend executive director Eron Berg said he and his wife, along with their five children, intend to get take-out from a local restaurant this Thanksgiving, although they weren’t quite sure which lucky business will be the one just yet.

Berg added that following a little home cooking and weather permitting, he hoped that Berg party-of-seven would head out for a walk at North Beach or Fort Worden.

Berg added that in years past, he and his family visit grandparents, or rendezvous with friends at Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia.

But given the size of his immediate family and with kids that are still attending school, the potential viral spread from the Berg residence could be far-reaching. Instead, he said the Bergs will be staying put this Thanksgiving.    

“We’re neither going nor inviting,” he said. “We are following the recommended program to keep the community safe this year.”


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