Pete Sirianni head shot

Pete Sirianni 

Earlier this week, I listened in on a virtual news conference from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. 

The topic, of course, was the rising number of COVID-19 cases in western Pennsylvania and across the United States. Unfortunately, the U.S. is still mired in a second wave of case increases and it seems like people have lost interest in listening to advice from public health officials. Consider it COVID fatigue.

Dr. Donald Yealy, UPMC senior medical director and chair of the emergency medical department at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh, made one remark that stuck with me from Wednesday’s event: “Stay vigilant. The virus doesn’t care about our fatigue.” 

In Pennsylvania, state health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine advised people to avoid large family gatherings for the holidays and contact friends and extended family in a more virtual way this year as a way to help stop the virus’ spread. If you can imagine, the response to those comments were less than welcome. 

Except in one household — my family’s. The executive decision to cancel Thanksgiving was made last week by my mother. So I asked her about it. 

MOM: “I don’t want all you germy people breathing on me. It’s the logical thing to do.”

ME: How did you come to this stance?

MOM: “It’s the wise thing to do. I listen to Dr. Fauci. Dr. Fauci is a lot smarter than I am and I’m going to listen to him. Plus, the numbers are rising and it’s in our school system (in Kane, population 3,800), whether people want to believe it or not.” 

ME: This means my older sister and brother-in-law — who both work at a university in Maryland — and their two children are barred from traveling to the family homestead in Kane. They haven’t visited since last September, and you (my parents) haven’t seen your only grandchildren since a brief visit in July when the virus plateauing. 

MOM: “It wasn’t an easy position to take. Your father and I are relatively healthy people and (we) don’t want to get sick.”

ME: So what will be on the table on Nov. 26?

MOM: “I’ll make a supper, but i’m not having any people over.” She said she’ll probably buy (or have me buy) a turkey “griller” from Jack Bell’s Meat & Poultry. 

Pete Sirianni is the assistant editor at the New Castle News. Email him at

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Pete Sirianni is the News' assistant editor and digital editor. He is a proud Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate, earning a degree in journalism and public relations. Contact him at or on Twitter at @PeterSirianni.

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