Thanksgiving will be quiet around the Woolsey table this year. Because of COVID, our kids will not fly in from different time zones or far reaches of the state. People outside our regular bubble will not pass the stuffing across the table or ask for seconds of my wife’s fabulous green bean casserole.
But one place bustling with activity on Thanksgiving will be our hospitals.
It is easy to play the “this won’t happen or impact me” card, but it is a lousy bet for too many. As I write this, I’ve several friends under or recovering from hospital care from COVID. No matter how inconvenient supporting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations feels, I know any gatherings of people who do not regularly interact is risky.
As of today, COVID remains a genie out of a bottle. Infection rates are climbing — in some places raging at 50 percent positivity levels. Safe havens in the summer, particularly the Midwest, are now driving higher rates. And the new hotspots often lack the health care options of urban areas.
I can’t help but hear the voices of health care workers pleading with us to show self-restraint and allow them a day off. Recently, one health care worker said she couldn’t remember the last time she had a day off. That stuck with me — the stress, the hours, the mental pounding of a relentless stream of incoming.
This week our nation passed 250,000 deaths related to COVID. Comparatively, the population of Corpus Christi’s primary area by ZIP code is 283,000, according to data site infoplease.com. Imagine if someone told you a year ago that we’d lose the population of a nationally known city to a powerful and mysterious flu. Most would have scoffed or felt revolted at the statement.
Unfortunately, this is real.
The good and the bad is that we, as individuals, can control the spread and influence the outcome. Vaccines are coming, but the timelines will be extended and take patience. And while I applaud the medical community and all those involved in bringing solutions to the public, we need to do our part — wear a mask, social distance and regularly wash our hands.
Look, I get this is a pain in the tail. But in the long run — and for the greater good — I’m willing to deal with short-term inconvenience for the sake of others. My dad is 92, and getting COVID could prove fatal. My daughter is immune-compromised, and contracting COVID could potentially bring her great harm.
And while I know and am aware of their challenges, I do not see the risk levels of the person I interact with at the grocery store or other innocent interactions.
I know that I can do my part by taking responsibility for my actions and activities. And if that means delaying large family gatherings until next year, that is a small inconvenience compared to the risk I could create for others.
So for this Thanksgiving, mask up and pass the gravy, please.