Dear Friends,

As infectious diseases physicians and members of St. John-St. Paul’s Collaborative, we are writing to ask you all to consider giving your loved ones the gift of a distanced Thanksgiving this year so that we can all celebrate together next year. As discussed in this article (see Here’s why a negative COVID-19 test doesn’t guarantee you can safely gather on Thanksgiving ), we in infectious diseases are very concerned about the “perfect storm” of COVID suffering and death that Thanksgiving could bring.

Thanksgiving has always been a day to show gratitude for our many blessings. The most important among those blessings have always been the people – our family and friends – who make our lives worth celebrating. With the alarming rise in COVID-19 infections across the country and here in Massachusetts, we all have a role to play in preventing the further spread of this illness. This year, it won’t be Thanksgiving as usual so let’s do our part to stay safe and healthy during this holiday season. While many outbreaks have been associated with events involving a large number of people, even small, private social gatherings are leading to more community spread of the virus. Please be careful and take steps to protect yourself and your family and friends

As you consider your celebrations for Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays, we strongly urge you to keep your gatherings small and to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued a recommendation on Thursday, November 19, 2020 against travel during the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released these guidelines for Thanksgiving.

Here are a few simple tips for all of us to follow:

  • Celebrate virtually if you can
  • Entertain outside or in well ventilated areas
  • Wear a mask at all times
  • Stay at least 6 feet from others who do not live with you
  • Wash your hands regularly (soap and water or hand sanitizer)
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick
  • Avoid touching your nose and mouth

So, we ask that you stay home this Thanksgiving. Watch football, enjoy a walk, Zoom with relatives. Stay home and stay safe.


Dr. Helen Boucher
Chief, Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases
Tufts Medical Center

Dr. Ed Ryan
Director, Global Infectious Diseases
Massachusetts General Hospital

The Gift of Staying Home for Thanksgiving: A Letter to Our Parishioners from Dr. Helen Boucher and Dr. Ed Ryan