Less than two weeks ago my husband and I took a carefully planned, socially distanced long weekend away to celebrate my 65th birthday. We chose a location that was a relatively short drive. We wore masks whenever we left the private little house we rented. We ate outside in temperatures in the high 40s in order to stay safe and follow the CDC guidelines.
We returned home to observe a very quiet Thanksgiving. As noted in my piece “A Pandemic Thanksgiving,” instead of our usual large gathering of family and friends, we only invited my husband’s brother who recently lost his spouse. We did everything right, followed the CDC, state and county guidelines, and looked forward to the day when Covid-19 would be behind us. Unfortunately, many Americans decided not to be so careful.
Nearly 10 million people flew over Thanksgiving week. Many more gathered in large groups without wearing masks or social distancing. The results of this thoughtless behavior are rapidly becoming apparent. There were 219,000 cases diagnosed over a one-day period this week. Almost 3,000 people in this country are dying each day from Covid-19 while 20,000 people are expected to die from the coronavirus over the holiday season.
These are lives that could be saved. Instead of making the ridiculous claim that you don’t want to miss what could potentially be your elderly relatives’ last holiday, do your best to make sure they are here to celebrate next year.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force recently warned: “…those over 65 or with significant health conditions should not enter any indoor spaces where people may not be wearing masks. They should have groceries and medications delivered.” I know some people would say that there’s no reason to change my behavior just because another birthday has passed. But unfortunately, the reasons number in the thousands. They are the people who won’t wear masks or practice social distancing. The other day I made a quick stop to pick up a mobile order at Starbucks only to have a maskless man blocking the way to the exit. When I walk my dogs too many people without masks think it’s okay to walk within a couple of feet of me as long as we all are outside. I’m feeling trapped and it’s hard to understand why my concern for others isn’t being reciprocated.
I understand that there are people suffering from pandemic fatigue who “just can’t take it anymore.” Pandemic fatigue is real. Isolation and loneliness can be painful to people who live alone. I don’t deny that coping after this many months is hard. But with vaccines just a few months away, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now is not the time to go on a super spreader rampage. In the same report mentioned above, the White House Coronavirus Task Force also warned, “If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household.” It really isn’t worth risking yourselves and others during the upcoming holidays.
Instead, let’s plan for the live events we missed, concerts, plays and baseball games that we’ll be able to attend next summer. We should be thinking about the large family gatherings we will be able to enjoy during the holidays next year. I want to plan a trip to someplace far away when I won’t have to worry about getting on a plane. Now is the time for everyone to stay safe, hunker down and look to the future.
In conclusion, I’ll just remind you of the wise words of that great philosopher, Samuel L. Jackson:
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