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Wishing you happy and healthy holidays

People will do what they want for the holidays no matter what we say, but we still feel the need to ask area residents thinking of going over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house this Christmas to bear one thing in mind: We are not out of the woods yet.

In many ways, COVID-19 is more dangerous than ever in most states and on the rise in other states such as New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported Saturday that the number of New Yorkers hospitalized with coronavirus had risen to the highest level since mid-May. According to officials, 6,208 people were hospitalized with the virus as of Friday — the largest number in the state since May 15.

On Saturday, the state also reported 127 new deaths and 9,919 new cases. In all, 28,474 people had died of COVID-19 in New York by Saturday.

Although Cuomo said the state “can see the light at the end of the tunnel” with the arrival of the first vaccines, we still have a long way to go.

“If we stay tough and be smart by socially distancing and wearing masks, we can avoid the holiday surge the experts are predicting and finally win this war,” the governor said in a news release.

Public health officials cautioned us all about large family gatherings for Thanksgiving. The surge of COVID-19 cases since then is evidence many people paid no heed to the warnings. They went ahead with festivities of the type enjoyed for years — and the deadly virus was communicated to many members of their families. More than 50,000 Americans have died of the disease just since Thanksgiving.

What will we do for Christmas? What will be do for New Year’s? Will we heed the warnings, made even more persuasive by what happened after Thanksgiving?

Or will we go ahead and get together with loved ones — perhaps vulnerable older people away from whom we have stayed for months?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, of course. Circumstances vary enormously from family to family. For some, with no older people planning to be present, the danger may fall into the calculated risk category. For others, with grandmothers and grandfathers in their 80s or older and in ill health, the hazard may be enormous.

What you do for the next two weeks is your decision. We urge you to make it thoughtfully, realistically and with long-term compassion. Make it a merry Christmas — and a happy new year.

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