Dr. Cara Christ

Dr. Cara Christ recommends families move Thanksgiving celebrations outdoors.

The state’s top education official said recently a new spike in COVID-19 will force local schools into the “impossible decision” of whether to shut their doors to in-person learning to prevent students and teachers from getting sick.

“Without serious changes from us, the adults making daily choices that determine the virus’ path, we cannot expect these numbers to head in a safe direction,” Kathy Hoffman said.

But state Health Director Cara Christ, while making multiple suggestions for dealing with the spread of the disease, said she’s not prepared to recommend new restrictions on individual and business activities.

“We continue to monitor the data on a daily basis,” she said. Christ noted the state was approaching 260,000 confirmed cases of the virus (the number since topped 275,000).

More significant, she said, 9% of the tests recently came back positive. Christ said there has been an increase in the number of people showing up in hospitals with COVID-19-like symptoms.

That, in turn, affects the question of whether students learn in class, online or a combination of both. Hoffman said these are not equivalent.

“When our schools close to in-person instruction, it is devastating to our communities,” she said.

“Parents are thrown in flux as they try to decide the best model for distance learning, whether at home or at an on-site learning center,” Hoffman continued. “Educators must adapt quickly, transitioning from in-person and hybrid to distance learning.

Christ had recommendations for what families should be doing this Thanksgiving to prevent these traditional family gatherings from turning into spreader events.

It starts, she said, with moving celebrations outside or a local park.

If that can’t happen, Christ said “create spaces” indoors so people can distance from one another, open doors and windows for better ventilation, and reduce the number of people gathered around the table.

“And consider celebrating virtually with your college-age students or your higher-risk and elderly relatives,” she said. 

Rep. Debbie Lesko of the 8th Congressional District said Monday, Nov. 16, she is quarantining due to an exposure to someone with COVID-19.

On Nov. 3, 60% of voters reelected Lesko, a Republican.

“I came into contact with a person who later tested positive for COVID-19,” Lesko said. “After consulting with the attending physician of Congress, and out of an abundance of caution, I will be undergoing a 14-day quarantine.”

She said she is not experiencing symptoms.

“Though I will not return to Washington, D.C., this week as scheduled, I remain committed to addressing the needs of the people of Arizona’s 8th Congressional District from my home in Peoria,” she said. The district stretches from New River to Litchfield Park.