The fatigue is understandable. We’re tired of all this, of wearing masks and not seeing people and weddings being canceled and is school in person or online this week? The daily reports are numbing. Infections climbing. Hospitalizations. More death.
And with the holidays coming up, we’re ready to be done with it. Thanksgiving won’t be the same online as it would be in person. How risky can one dinner be?
Pretty risky, it turns out. Investigators from the state Department of Public Health looked at how coronavirus was spreading in Connecticut and found that one of the key drivers behind the dramatic surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths are small family gatherings — cookouts, dinners, modest celebrations.
The second wave is hitting us hard. During Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s Thursday coronavirus briefing, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said he expects the current surge won’t peak nationally until January.
“This is the final stage of the acute phase of this epidemic that we need to get through,” Gottlieb said. “Unfortunately, it’s going to be the hardest phase. We’re in for a very difficult two or three months.”
And with family gatherings facilitating the spread of the virus, those next two to three months will be an incredibly risky stretch due to the understandable temptation to drop our guard for the sake of seeing family and friends over the holidays.
It’s time to rethink those plans.
Sure it’d be great seeing mom and dad, grandma and grandpa. We are all desperate for the in-person companionship of the people we care about. But it’s more important to make sure mom, dad, grandma and grandpa will be around to celebrate when we have finally put the worst of this pandemic behind us. That may sound harsh, but it’s the reality we are facing.
We weren’t prepared when coronavirus arrived last spring. Public officials were likening COVID-19 to the flu, there wasn’t enough PPE to adequately protect caregivers in hospitals and nursing homes and our testing abilities were woefully deficient.
We know better now, in some ways. We’ve succeeded in containing mass outbreaks in places like nursing homes through better infection control strategies. Most, though not all, of us are smart about wearing masks.
But coronavirus is like water. It will find a way. And the way it is finding now is by spreading among younger people who may experience only mild symptoms — or no symptoms at all. They may not end up in the hospital, but they are carrying it to people who are older, sicker and at risk of ending up in the hospital or dying.
“The safest thing to do is do ( Thanksgiving) on Zoom,” said Dr. Tom Balcezak, chief medical officer at Yale New Haven Hospital, who also warned that a negative test shortly before a visit doesn’t guarantee that someone is COVID-free because of the incubation period of the disease.
So drive a plate over to someone’s house and drop it outside. Tell stories online. Pick a time to all watch the same movie wherever you may be.
But most of all, make this Thanksgiving about next Thanksgiving. So when we can celebrate safely together, we’re all still around to savor that day.