By Joe Moody

With COVID-19 still gripping El Paso, our families have to make a difficult choice this Thanksgiving. It wasn’t an easy one for my family, but in the end, we’ve chosen to stay apart during the holidays for the first time in—well, ever. I’m begging every other family in El Paso to do the same.

Joe Moody

Lots of social media messages are saying things like, “Don’t gather for the holidays, but if you do. . . .” I’m writing to say there’s no “but.” We shouldn’t be gathering at all, period, if we want to save lives.

It’s easy to think it won’t happen to you or your family, but it can and will for some. No matter how safe and careful you’ve been, all it takes is one person in the family who had a chance encounter with someone who wasn’t so careful to get everyone sick.

It won’t make me popular to say this, but it’s the hard truth: if your family gets together for the holidays, you’re not just risking your lives, you’re risking the lives of any fellow El Pasoans you come in contact with in the week or two after Thanksgiving. You might kill someone — or yourself.

Gathering with your family this year isn’t worth risking every year with them to come.

Now’s a time for creativity. In my family, we’re each going to make one of the dishes we traditionally eat, then deliver them (without contact) to other family members. We’re planning on calls and seeing each other’s faces over Zoom and Facetime. It’s not ideal, and none of us like it, but it’s what we have to do to stay safe. Please do something similar.

We’ve all seen the news—mobile morgues in our city after too many have passed for our existing facilities to handle them. We’re only just starting to see the numbers of new infections level off and slightly decline. If there are gatherings all over El Paso on Thanksgiving, we’ll be burying at least as many people by Christmas.

We have the power to stop this, but only if we make smart decisions and the sacrifices it’ll take to do so.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of a message like this—I’m sorry this is what we’re going through—but I love my city and its people, and I know we can beat this virus if we just work together.

So please, this Thanksgiving, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay apart.

Joe Moody represents El Paso’s District 78 in the Texas House of Representatives.

Cover illustration courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.