Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press, a newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind.
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Like many, I’d like to live my life unencumbered by the restrictions of a global pandemic and public safety response protocols that have made America feel a little less vibrant, a little more distant, a little more muted than ever before.
But what I’d like isn’t important. What we need is the only thing that matters.
We need to seek shelter from the storm.
(Even if you don’t feel raindrops.)
We need to hunker down again, as New York City did in the springtime. Because if we don’t, it could mean unspeakable tragedy for so many families.
There is so much good news in the long-term fight against COVID-19 that I think a lot of people are still taking for granted that for so many communities, the worst wave of the virus isn’t just fast approaching anymore. It’s here. More than 1 in every 400 Americans tested positive for the coronavirus last week. The virus is so ubiquitous that many aren’t even able to trace how they got it.
Make no mistake. The virus doesn’t care about how people feel about masks.
The virus doesn’t care about how people feel about compulsory lockdowns.
The virus doesn’t care how much we miss our normal, pre-COVID lives.
Most importantly, the virus doesn’t care how safe people perceive their community to be, and the virus sure doesn’t care about our calendars.
That’s a harsh truth that feels like a biting winter wind that hits your bare face in the wintertime, but it’s a truth that is worth digesting. My partner and I had been discussing our options for the upcoming holiday season with a “wait-and-see” approach, and we’ve seen enough data to make our decision. I would encourage you to read her thoughts and reflections about the 2020 holiday season and the choice we’re making to hunker down for the holidays.
The COVID Holiday Season | Scenarios of Drea
Navigating the bittersweet emotions associated with facing the reality of a holiday season in the COVID-19 era.
From Thanksgiving weekend all the way through December into New Year’s, there is understandably such strong emotional weight tied into the holidays for billions of people around the world. It’s a chance to shelter from the cold with the warmth of the people you love, celebrating another year of life lived.
I don’t want those warm holiday memories to go away. It’s within our collective power to avoid risking tragedy. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.
I don’t want to miss out on the hugs, the food, the gifts, the laughs, all of it. I just don’t want anyone’s holiday season to be marred by the virus and end up becoming a tragic anniversary that stains future holiday seasons, either.
People are getting infected in greater numbers than we’ve seen previously. Hospitalizations are up. Weddings are becoming super-spreader events with ramifications that go well beyond the reception, as we tragically keep seeing.
Super-spreading wedding party demonstrates COVID-19 risk posed by holiday gatherings
If you want to know why public health officials are so nervous about how much worse the COVID-19 pandemic will get as…
The details of this Maine wedding from early August are unspeakably sad, and it is an example of the inherent dangers of how the virus can spread:
Only 55 people attended the Aug. 7 reception at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket. But one of those guests arrived with a coronavirus infection. Over the next 38 days, the virus spread to 176 other people. Seven of them died. None of the victims who lost their lives had attended the party.
Read through to see the timeline of events, but the end result is what it is.
Regardless of where you live, it’s unwise to underestimate this coronavirus.
Mississippi epidemiologists and health officials put it in the starkest of terms:
“After Big Thanksgiving Dinners, Plan Small Christmas Funerals,” Health Experts Warn
Mississippians should plan "to have very small Thanksgiving gatherings" with only nuclear family members this year to…
In Other Words
The decision to sacrifice all in-person gatherings over one holiday season feels like far and away the best choice my partner and I can make. Had the virus been at a more manageable level where the risk/benefit felt different, (as it was over this summer and early weeks of fall) it’d be a harder decision.
But by Thanksgiving weekend, we will be well past a reasonable risk level. Zeynep Tufekci of The Atlantic wrote this weekend that it’s time to hunker down now and shelter in place as much as possible to weather the storm:
It's Time to Hunker Down
A devastating surge is here. Unless Americans act aggressively, it will get much larger, very quickly. The end may be…
It’s not just America, either. These public service advertisements that the German government has put out are a clever look at how history may remember this moment in world history. Please click through and enjoy:
The bottom line is that if enough people willingly sacrifice in-person gatherings for a few more months, we might be able to beat this thing once and for all. Promising vaccines should become available in the months to come, meaning many in-person gatherings may be back to normal in 2021.
We may still wear masks during future flu seasons for years to come, as citizens of places that have dealt with more viral pandemics still willingly do. (Hey, at least the masks will keep our noses warm in the biting winter wind.)
But if you’re excited about spending Thanksgiving with loved ones outside of your immediate household, please consider the ramifications of potentially having empty seats at the table during future Thanksgivings going forward.
If we hunker down now, we can preserve these holiday memories for untold years to come. It may be a bit boring this year, but boring is better than tragic.
Some ideas to stay connected during the holiday season while being apart:
- Make liberal use of your technology of choice: phone calls, video chats, (Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, etc.) and try to coordinate big group calls. There are so many possibilities with this, you could even do a livestream of your cooking and share the link (and help out your less-techie relatives).
- If possible, instead of cooking a side(s) to bring to in-person gatherings, cook a side(s), divide into portions, and safely leave them on your family members’ doorsteps, (and coordinate it so that everybody gets a full plate).
- Every household will need their own turkey. So let’s all do our best (and get some tips from your family’s designated turkey expert ahead of time)!
- Maybe this one’s a little blasphemous but you don’t have to do turkey if you don’t want to go through the trouble. Eat whatever floats your boat. (We’re not planning on having turkey at our hunkered down Thanksgiving.)
- Make the most of it! Remember how weird this is and why we’re doing it this way (and think about how much we’re going to celebrate in the future).
For more information to consider for your family’s Thanksgiving plans, check out this recent post from the CDC for some of their best tips for staying safe:
Advice for Celebrating Thanksgivings from the CDC
Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are fun but can increase the chances of getting or…
Also, when it comes to gift shopping, I must implore you to avoid in-person Black Friday (quite literally!) like the plague and do as much shopping online as possible. There are plenty of places online to find every gift you could ever wish to shop for, whether it’s something popular or something unique. I would recommend your usual online shopping sites, websites for stores you’d want to shop at in-person, and places like Etsy for a more personal touch.
Shelter is one of those basic, fundamental human needs that I think can get lost in the shuffle sometimes. Our bodies and minds make sure we never forget how often we need food, water, and sleep. Shelter is just as important. A roof over our heads. A floor under our feet. The peace of mind of shelter.
We all need shelter. Now more than ever. Rather than focus on what we’re missing out on, be grateful for what we have. It’s worth our appreciation.
Once the pandemic is over and COVID-19 can be controlled in communities everywhere, the get-togethers, parties, reunions, and celebrations are going to be absolutely amazing. I wouldn’t want you or anyone you love to miss out.
I can only ask you to consider all of this as you and your family make your arrangements this holiday season. I wish health and happiness upon us all. Whatever you decide, however you find yourself spending the next few months, be safe and vigilant. Do it for yourself and for your community.
Till next time,
Previously in The Good Press
The Good Press — Issue #30: Forward
The 2020 election was a battle for America’s soul with democracy itself on the ballot. It wasn’t “right vs. left” but “backward vs. forward.”
November 11, 2020
The Good Press — Issue #29: Accountability
On keeping people accountable when there’s a job to be done
November 4, 2020
The Good Press — Issue #28: Control
Controlling what we can control, and never giving up when the going gets tough
October 28, 2020