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VERIFY: Thanksgiving is not the only reason COVID cases are spiking in Canada

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 11/25/2020 Mia Salenetri

Canada, like the United States, is seeing a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, albeit not nearly as severe.

The U.S. reported 187,000 cases on November 11 versus Canada's 4,000. Many social media posts are claiming that the current Canadian spike was caused by their Thanksgiving on October 12. 


Was Canada's COVID-19 spike caused by their Thanksgiving gatherings?


No, not on its own. Officials say the spike is fueled by a combination of factors, one of which was Thanksgiving.



A few tweets have gone viral recently warning Americans that Canadian Thanksgiving caused a spike in COVID-19 cases and that Thanksgiving here could do that same. Take for instance this tweet, which shows a screengrab of an unlabeled chart, implied to show a spike in cases after October 12th.

Verify researchers tracked down the chart to the Calgary Herald, a newspaper based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The chart, shared now thousands of times, sources data from the Alberta Ministry of Health —  that means the chart is only showing case increases from the province of Alberta, which makes up almost 12% of the country's population.

So we can Verify that the chart in the tweet is legit, but is not representative of the entire country. 

Next, we asked Alberta officials if it's true that a surge in COVID-19 cases was caused by Thanksgiving.

“Those results generally lag exposure/contact by several days," Alberta Health Press Secretary Steve Buick said via email. "The current increase in daily cases began in early October, indicating an increase in contacts/exposure in late September."

They say Thanksgiving on October 12th may have contributed to the case increase, but because the current trend was well established before Thanksgiving, officials aren't singling it out as the cause.

"The more important point is that the current increase is being driven in part by social gatherings of all kinds, including private/family gatherings," Buick says, "And we are urgently asking people to reduce gatherings and all social/non-essential contacts."


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