FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – New data tracking the movements of North Texans is helping researchers gauge whether the Thanksgiving holiday will actually turn out to be a superspreader event for COVID-19.
Leading up to the holiday, health officials sounded the alarm about taking part in typical Thanksgiving traditions as cases surged in the Metroplex.
Two of their biggest concerns were large group gatherings and in-person Black Friday shopping.
“So both of these two events can be potentially dangerous from a spread of COVID-19 perspective,” said Dr. Rajesh Nandy, an associate professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the UNT Health Science Center.
He’s been analyzing mobility data from Black Friday, which shows how many people actually went out to stores by tracking their cell phone movements.
“We did find that it actually wasn’t any higher than normal, and we saw that all across the four counties in the Metroplex,” he said. “I don’t expect Black Friday itself to have any adverse effect on COVID transmission.”
But the jury is still out on the impact of Thanksgiving Day plans.
“We’ve had fewer gatherings, but it’s certainly not zero,” said Dr. Nandy. “So we still expect some fallout from that.”
If they do cause an increase in COVID-19 cases, Dr. Nandy says we won’t see it in the data till the beginning of next week at the earliest.
“The next few weeks will be critical, and we are bracing for a bumpy road ’til mid-January,” he said.
That’s when he expects the spread of the virus to finally slow down.
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