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This message was shared with the students, faculty and staff of the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi system on November 23, 2020.

Aloha UH ʻohana,

Thanksgiving is typically a time when we gather with family and friends. But the COVID-19 pandemic makes this year very different. Protecting loved ones and ourselves takes a collective effort, and the Hawai‘i Department of Health is seeing that a significant number of our new COVID-19 cases are arising from social gatherings—even small ones with close friends and family.

COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing throughout the continent, and the Centers for Disease Control have implored everyone to refrain from travel over the Thanksgiving weekend. Our numbers in Hawaiʻi are the best in the country, but we still show significant rates of community transmission. And celebrations over holiday weekends have been the source of many of our outbreaks.

Governor Ige has asked everyone to celebrate Thanksgiving within their household bubbles only. I know that this is a tough request, especially during a time in which we need family and friends more than ever. But we all need to do our part to get and keep COVID-19 under control in Hawaiʻi—for the benefit of all.

Here are some tips on how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving this year:

  • Don’t travel over the holiday weekend
  • Avoid hosting or attending gatherings with people outside of your immediate household
  • Use digital platforms to celebrate virtually
  • If you must have a small gathering, do it outdoors, limit the number of people, wear face coverings whenever not eating, do not share serving utensils, shorten visit times and keep everyone 6 feet apart
  • Avoid crowds by doing your holiday shopping online. You can support local vendors on sites like Pop-up Makeke, Made in Hawaii Festival or the Buy Hawaii, Give Aloha websites

As I reflect on the challenges of 2020, I give thanks for the privilege of being a part of this remarkable University of Hawaiʻi community. Our students, faculty, staff and leaders have risen to face every challenge the year has thrown at us, and as a result, our 10 UH campuses are among the safest in the country. You make me incredibly proud.

Mahalo for all you do, and please enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

E mālama pono,
David Lassner
UH President

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