No one is happy about being asked to stay home for Thanksgiving. No one was happy about the Fourth of July parade being canceled. There’s not much to like about the COVID-19 pandemic (other than it makes us realize how much we care about and miss our fellow community members and miss interacting with them and hugging them).

As Halloween aptly demonstrated, COVID is a very real presence here in our state and, very specifically, in Washington County which currently has the 10th highest rate of COVID-19 per million people in the entire Northeast with 8,777 cases per million people or 88 cases per 10,000 for a more manageable scale.

Current Department of Health stats for Warren show eight cases and nine in Waitsfield. Those numbers include residents of towns that don’t have a post office which is why Fayston and Duxbury show up as having had zero cases since March. Specific numbers for Moretown don’t meet the state’s threshold for being listed. Moretown shows up as having one to five cases.

Those numbers seem low, but they can change in a heartbeat. They can change from a small dinner party. They can change from a birthday party or baby shower or a Thanksgiving dinner involving multiple households.

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving and gathering up as many people as can fit at the table, making sure that there are no Thanksgiving orphans who need a seat at the table and fellowship? There’s no better holiday for celebrating being together with friends and family to cook and enjoy food together.

But we have to sit it out this year. Nobody’s family is safe enough to be excused from the multi-household mingling dictum. The risks are too high and the cases in Washington County and around the country are too high. We cannot protect the most vulnerable among us if we selfishly gather.

We have to take this seriously. The state is and the Agency of Education will require school staff to ask students if they’ve been to multi-household gatherings as part of the regular screening after Thanksgiving. Those who did will have to go remote for two weeks. Take this seriously.

Celebrate at home. Call friends and family. Skype, Zoom, Facetime. Cook together digitally but please don’t gather.