SINGAPORE - For the past three years, Ms Junette Yu has soaked up the year-end festivities and indulged in Thanksgiving dinner with different American families.
This Thanksgiving, the 22-year-old postgraduate student at Duke University in North Carolina sat out the celebrations and stayed at home. Wary that social gatherings and crowds could fuel the spread of Covid-19, Ms Yu also gave the Black Friday sales a miss.
In past years, she joined the families of her American classmates, and last year, she celebrated with the host family she was matched with in a programme for international students.
"I really liked meeting host families regularly because it was a chance to experience American culture beyond the university," she said. "Unfortunately, that is not going to happen this year."
Covid-19 cases in North Carolina, where she has been for five years, hit a record high of 4,514 daily cases on Nov 22. Its governor mandated the wearing of masks state-wide from last Wednesday to Dec 11. On Sunday, the American state reported 3,820 cases.
"My concern is that businesses and stores will start shutting down, and there will be panic buying again. Right now, there are no signs of that, but I can see how that can be a problem when numbers start rising," Ms Yu said.
Having decided to distance herself socially, she planned to bake holiday treats with her housemates.
"My friends and I messaged one another earlier in the week and tried to figure out if there are safe activities to do together for Thanksgiving, but we couldn't really come up with anything."