Robin Schoenthaler, MD
5 min readNov 3, 2020


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Keeping Covid Out of Your Holidays

Saying Yes to the Science and No to Big Gatherings

Photo by United Nations COVID-19 Response on Unsplash

Against the drumbeat of the election we have rising cases in much of the US and Europe. Like really rising. As in, Friday saw the most US cases ever — even more than in the spring.

In the spring, we didn’t understand a lot about this virus. We didn’t know how easily it could be spread from one person to another. We didn’t know it could be spread by asymptomatic people. We didn’t know a lot.

But on the other hand we did know some basic stuff about epidemics; things that are always true every time. You need to be able to test easily, with quick turn-arounds, to contact trace, to be able to isolate the infected and quarantine the contacts.

So we worked at that, at least on the local levels, while pouring government money into vaccines.

And in the meantime, the science accumulated. We learned more about how Covid spreads, and how and why it’s important to have six feet of physical distancing. We learned about how being with others inside was consistently less safe than the same activity outside and we re-learned lessons about hand-washing. We learned about the absolutely critical role of masking.

And the science continues to accumulate. A couple of helpful treatments have been discovered and now are standard of care. Vaccine development is real and will have an impact next year.

But in the meantime we still have to make day-to-day decisions about how to keep our loved ones safe, particularly during the upcoming holidays.

More and more people are listening to the science and making hard choices about Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah: the only way to be safer during the holidays is to not travel, to not congregate, to stay home, and to stay small.

For Thanksgiving, Tony Fauci is staying home. The director of the NIH is staying home. The president of the Massachusetts Medical Society is staying home. In fact, virtually all of my physician friends are staying home and everyone is having smaller gatherings.

They are doing this because the science is clear: one of the riskiest things we can do is eat



Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom., @robinshome,