Thanksgiving and COVID in 2020

By Kingsley Acevedo

This image by Signe Wilkinson published by The Philadelphia Inquirer is very relevant in our lives and in America right now. We just celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is usually a time of friend and family gatherings. This year it was especially hard on most. A lot of reunions take place on Thanksgiving. Most people look forward to this holiday and it is traditionally a very social event that helps kicks off the beginning of our holiday season. With social distancing guidelines in place most people would have a very different looking holiday this year than we are used to. I do not think in my lifetime I have experienced a holiday quite like this one. Still, for health, wellbeing and in order to aid initiatives to combat the Corona virus, the safe thing to do was to follow the CDC rules. 

In the comic, the front-line workers are caring for this family infected with the Covid-19 virus. The health care workers do not look amused as they are told by the family that they had given thanks for them at their Thanksgiving holiday celebration. What is interesting about this statement is that they are imposing on the health care workers. By ending up in the hospital in the first place, due to not following the guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19, they are adding to the very busy hospital staff’s workload. The family chose to host their Thanksgiving celebrations together and ended up costing the hospital staff time and resources. 

You see and hear so many people advising other people on how to stop the spread of the virus but doing the opposite of what they are saying. This is what this image reminds me of. For example, over the course of this pandemic there have been so many prominent political figures that have told the masses they should follow the guidelines so that we could get over this pandemic as quickly as possible, yet some have been seen attending social gatherings or even vacationing, as was the case with US TX mayor Steve Adler, reported by The Guardian. Additionally, other political figures that ignored their own advice, such as San Francisco mayor London Breed and California governor Gavin Newson. Both were announced by ABC7 news outlet (Martichoux) to have attended separate dinner parties within a day of each other at The French Laundry restaurant in CA despite guiding people to social distance and limit public gatherings. This shows what we should be doing and what we would like for people to do but not necessarily what we are doing. We can advise or give thanks to health care workers but if we are not all proactively guarding our health then our efforts can fall short. We know what we need to do but we are not applying it or maybe we are just letting our guards down. This cartoon is an example of what is taking place this year. In the news you will find stories of mayors that flew home for the holidays after advising people to stay home or attending social gatherings after telling the public not to. These are current example of how people are ending up contracting the virus by not following the recommended guidelines to limit social gatherings to stop the spread. 

At the bottom of the cartoon the image contains the words, “Giving thanks… not in the most helpful way.” The message is the contradiction between what is being advised and what people are doing. People ignored the rules put in place to protect us and have ended up in the hospital. President Trump is an example of these people that did not quite take the virus seriously and ended up with Covid-19 and needing hospital staff care and resources. This is not helpful to the hospital staff that is already overworked and overwhelmed dealing with this ongoing pandemic every day. The man in the cartoon giving the doctors a thumbs up as a sign of approval is imposing on these doctors and could have prevented ending up in this position had he chosen to celebrate Thanksgiving virtually. This would have been the safest way and it would have prevented his infection. 

Another aspect of this image that I found interesting is how the hospital looks short staffed. There are three patients and only two doctors caring for them. They are all cramped in this one room. I can infer from this image that the hospital is certainly overwhelmed. This portrayal is effective because hospitals have been reported to be seriously overcrowded. There are too many patients and not enough room. Our hospitals were not ready to deal with this pandemic and so many people needing hospital care. The beds are spaced right next to one another so no way to keep the 6 feet social distance recommended by the CDC. 

I choose this image because of the relevancy that it has to what we are living with at this time. The reality that we are experiencing. How hard it is for people to adjust to something that most of us were not even aware could happen. In America we always feel like we are safe from a lot of things that happen in other countries. As a nation we are facing one of the toughest challenges that most of us have experienced in our lifetimes. We should thank our essential workers by being more proactive in helping the cause rather than hurting it so that we can save lives and may all get back to normal as quickly as we can. 

The Guardian (2020) “Austin mayor took vacation in Mexico while urging people to stay home.” The Guardian, accessed Dec. 13, 2020.

Martichoux, Alix (2020) “San Francisco Major London Breed attended French Laundry birthday dinner 1 day after Gov. Gavin Newsom.” abc7news.com, accessed Dec. 13, 2020. 

Course: ENG 101 English Composition, Fall 2020
Assignment: Visual Analysis
Instructor: Kevin Lamkins
Instructor comments: For this assignment, visual analysis, it can be difficult to choose an image that is not too abstract or lacks a clear message. Kingsley chose a great image for the moment we were in. And, beyond a simple message about COVID protocols, the cartoon contains multiple layers that help convey its message, which she points out quite well. Kingsley breaks down multiple aspects of the image to assess and interpret its rhetorical message.