Thanksgiving will be quiet around the Woolsey table this year. Due to COVID, our kids will not be flying 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 have several friends under or recovering from hospital care from COVID. No matter how inconvenient supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 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% positivity levels. Safe havens in the summer, particularly the Midwest, are now driving higher rates. And comparatively, to urban cities, healthcare options are fewer and less available.
I can’t help but hear the voices of healthcare workers pleading with us to show self-restraint and allow them a day off. Recently one healthcare 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 the 250,000 deaths related to COVID. Comparatively, the city of Corpus Christi is 283,000, according to data site infoplease.com. Imagine if someone told you a year ago, we’d lose the population of a nationally-known city due 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 we, as individuals, can control both the spread and impact 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 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.
Leonard Woolsey is president of Southern Newspapers Inc. and president and publisher of The Daily News in Galveston, Texas.