Comply or defy? Delawareans prep for Thanksgiving amid Carney’s call for distance

Gov. John Carney has limited indoor gatherings to 10 people, triggering both defiance and efforts to comply while celebrating Thanksgiving with loved ones.

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Carol Arnott-Robbins on her deck

Carol Arnott-Robbins plans to eat on her deck with at most seven relatives. (Courtesy of Carol Arnott-Robbins)

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Thanksgiving traditions are legion.

The Macy’s parade. Touch football games and turkey trots. Marathon cooking sessions. Crowded dinner tables. Watching NFL games or movies with dessert on your lap.

But this year won’t be even close to normal.

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In Delaware, with coronavirus cases at record levels and hospitalizations growing rapidly, Gov. John Carney issued an order last week that limits in-home gatherings to 10 people until further notice.

Carney and the state’s public health director are basically begging people who don’t live together not to gather for turkey and trimmings. Or at least to limit the number of households celebrating together.

“Come up with ideas to have virtual Thanksgiving with our elderly family members,’’ the governor said. “Order it from your favorite restaurant and send it over to grandmom to give thanks for everything that we all have.”

Carney’s plea comes as the state’s weekly daily average of new cases hits 428 and the number of patients hospitalized has risen to 177. Both figures are six times higher than three months ago.

Through Sunday, 32,211 Delawareans — more than 3% of the population — had contracted COVID-190 and 752 died of related causes, according to Division of Public Health statistics.

Despite the persistent and growing community spread of the virus, many residents are proclaiming on social media that they will not comply with Carney’s directive.

Some have taken to calling the governor a communist and a dictator. One woman wrote that until the governor pays her bills she will let whomever she pleases into her house.

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Yet many are doing their best to enjoy the holiday with their families while mostly following guidelines. Some say they have canceled their usual mega-dinner.

Gina Small of the Wilmington area said she has hosted her relatives for more than three decades but won’t this year.

“Since COVID has blown up our usual large family gathering, I’m blowing Thanksgiving all the way up,’’ Small said. “Told my husband and daughter I’m not cooking. I’m eating cheese, drinking wine, and watching Christmas movies all day.”

Paula Konitzer
Paula Konitzer, who is going to a dinner with about two dozen relatives, says the group has essentially been in quarantine together since March. (Courtesy of Paula Konitzer)

Janice Rispoli of Newark said she will be “rooting for the [Dallas] Cowboys with six instead of 30 Eagles fans.”

Carol Arnott-Robins will host at most seven family members in her Greenville home. Unless it’s raining, they will bundle up and eat on her deck.

“It’s still in flux. We have four-deck heaters, the big tall ones. It will be a first, Thanksgiving out on the deck with our coats on,’’ she said with a laugh. “But I think it could be really magical.”

Paula Konitzer says her extended family is planning a gathering of some two dozen relatives in Milton. She reasons they are following the spirit, if not the letter, of the law because they have basically quarantined together in different homes since spring.

They don’t go out except for groceries and a weekly card game. They’re usually huggers but now they only bump elbows.

“It’s Thanksgiving. It’s all about coming together and being thankful for what we have. We need to be together so we can give each other support that we need,’’ Konitzer said.

Konitzer said she is certain none of those relatives are infected, but does have concerns about one niece who lives out-of-town. “We’re hoping that we’re all safe,’’ she said.

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