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Despite ‘freeze,’ some C. Oregonians still plan big Thanksgiving celebrations

'We welcome anybody that wants to join, including any state agent' -- but St. Charles official insists the danger is real: 'This is not overplayed'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Some Central Oregonians say they'll celebrate the holidays as usual, against the advice, even urgent pleas of local, state and federal health officials to keep Thanksgiving gatherings very small.

That includes Scott Stuart of Eagle Crest.

"We're having a family Thanksgiving, having all of our family over," he said Monday. "And we welcome anybody that wants to join, including any state agent that wants to come in."

In an email to NewsChannel 21, Stuart wrote, "Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to join together without masks, social distancing or lockdowns."

"No public servant has the right to determine what you or your family can do during this holiday season," he added.

Stuart said he's not worried about the virus.

"I have not worn a mask since this whole thing began," he said. "I was concerned about it, at first -- I think everyone was."

Gary Moss, who lives in Deschutes County also said he isn't changing his plans for the holiday.

"My plans for Thanksgiving are to have thanksgiving in the way that we've had for years," Moss said. "It's a family tradition. We get together, we have large numbers, we celebrate."

Ross said some in his family had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the year, and he feels people should make their own choices.

"I think that I have concern for those that are at risk, and I would not want to put anyone at risk," he said. "But for our family, and for those who have a desire to gather, they should be free to do that."

Health care workers, including those at St Charles Bend, are concerned about being overwhelmed by a continued rise in cases.

"This is not overplayed," said St. Charles Chief Chief Physician Executive Dr. Jeffery Absalon. "We want to take care of our community, and when patients require hospitalization or an intensive level of care, we want to do it in the safest way possible"

Absalon said that Monday morning, the Bend hospital was at 90 percent capacity, which he said is about 20 percent higher than usual.

"To start the day with these kind of numbers, to start the week with these kind of numbers means things are going to be tight," he said.

Absalon said even if you don't have underlying conditions, you should still take precautions, since so many cases of the infectious virus are asymptomatic, at least to start.

"The reality is that anybody can get extremely ill from COVID-19," he said.

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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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