Next week, Americans will confront how to celebrate a national holiday that is for many people all about togetherness amid a pandemic that demands that we stay apart.

And like so much else nowadays, Thanksgiving has suddenly become political. At one end of the table are those like Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino, who declared that his deputies won’t be out enforcing the state’s 10-person limit on gatherings when it comes to Thanksgiving meals. At the other end is Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who took the bait and lectured Giardino on his obligations as a sworn law enforcement officer.

All that’s missing is someone muttering about the government having to pry that drumstick from his cold, dead hands. But the measure of a person’s character is not what they do when other people are watching, but when they aren’t.

If you go out of your way to defy common-sense precautions meant to keep you and those around you safe from the coronavirus — wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding handshakes, washing your hands regularly — all to make a political statement, that says something about your character. If you quietly take those precautions to keep not just yourself but those around you safe, that says something about your character, too.

And if you fail to do those things, blithely go about your life as if there isn’t even a pandemic at all, and still show up at Thanksgiving dinner quite possibly infected, that, sadly, speaks volumes. Especially at a time when coronavirus cases are back on the rise.

Common sense should prevail. New York’s 10-person limit is one approach. The federal Centers for Disease Control went further yesterday and urged people to stay home and celebrate only with people they live with. If you can’t tolerate that, get tested (find a testing site near you on the state Department of Health website) — though even if you test negative before Thanksgiving, you should still avoid being in groups in the days leading up to the holiday.

For vulnerable people — especially the elderly and people with health conditions that make getting the virus more risky — this may have to be a Thanksgiving to find other ways to connect. A phone call. Zoom, Skype, or other digital means.

This is a tough call, America. This is where the pandemic hits home. So plan this Thanksgiving thoughtfully. Make it safe. Don’t make it your last.

— Times Union of Albany (TNS)

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