San Antonio epidemiologist hopes to maintain meaning of Thanksgiving spirit despite COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Cherise Rohr-Allegrini is a local epidemiologist who is planning to spend her Thanksgiving away from most of her loved ones

SAN ANTONIO – Health experts are encouraging people to avoid large gatherings this Thanksgiving to avoid spreading COVID-19 as cases surge across the United States.

Cherise Rohr-Allegrini, Ph.D., is a local epidemiologist. She says this year has been intense for everyone in the health care field.

“We just have a lot that we’re trying to figure out,” she said.

Rohr-Allegrini is also the CEO of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation and spends much of her time monitoring local COVID-19 data.

However, she hopes to take a break from her busy schedule on her favorite holiday.

“It’s a meaning of coming together -- of people joining of different cultures -- and to celebrate what they have and to share it most importantly,” Rohr-Allegrini said.

Rohr-Allegrini said her Thanksgiving tradition is to host friends and neighbors from different cultures and walks of life.

She also spends time preparing a turkey for every dinner she hosts.

This year, her Thanksgiving will look drastically different as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Bexar County and throughout the U.S.

“It’s really hard to be isolated for Thanksgiving. It’s just so contrary to what the meaning of Thanksgiving is,” Rohr-Allegrini said.

She plans to trade a large gathering for an intimate one with her husband and two kids.

“We’ll find something else to do that’s the four of us, and we’re fortunate enough to have each other,” Rohr-Allegrini said.

She also plans to check in on her friends and family virtually. She believes it’s a safer alternative instead of mixing households, which could increase the risk of getting COVID-19.

“I want to hug people. I want to give kisses to my relatives, but that’s just going to have to wait,” she said.

Rohr-Allegrini said it wouldn’t be a typical Thanksgiving for families but believes being physically apart doesn’t mean they can’t be emotionally together.

“Just have a human connection that doesn’t have to be physical,” she said.

About the Authors:

Steven Cavazos is a traffic anchor and general assignments reporter in the weekday mornings at KSAT 12.

Before starting KSAT in 2017, Lee was a photojournalist at KENS 5, where he won a Lone Star Emmy in 2014 for Best Weather Segment. In 2009 and 2010 Lee garnered first-place awards with the Texas Association of Broadcasters for Best Investigative Series in College Station, as well as winning first place for Staff Photojournalism in 2011 at KBTX.