The Choices Some of Us Make About Holiday Travel Endangers Us All
Hear Ye, Hear Ye
Thanksgiving has come and gone. Christmas is a few weeks away. An ideal time for my Grinch to speak out. The subject at hand: personal decisions about holiday travel.
What is at Play Here
Pandemics are interesting. They are so universal where they strike. Yet how much they spread depends to a great extent on individual, personal decisions. The current pandemic and people’s decisions about gathering are a classic case in point.
The variables are government (in)action, business decisions and what we as individuals decide to do. This last element is the most important. The effects of our decisions go well beyond our own lives and those of our families. If only we did not breathe on each other….
The CDC, coming off the leash from the dying Trump administration, explicitly asked us all not to gather together for the holidays. The pandemic is burning through the country like mad. Care givers in every state are at the breaking and exhaustion point like never before. We are asked to not gather for only one holiday season. This alone would give the medical community a chance at beating this thing back. Not much to ask, is it?
And yet, here we are. Over a million Americans a day took to the airways over the Thanksgiving rush. Millions more hit the highways to gather with a room full of people with whom they do not live. At times, I marvel at how limited our species can be.
I have a very few friends who have chosen to gather during this season. But they have gone to exceptional lengths to do so safely. Only about 6 people gathering, all tested just prior, and self-quarantined since testing. Getting together loosely, by meeting outside and dining at separate tables. Close enough to talk, but at least 6 feet apart. Breaking up after the meal, straight back home. That seems to me not a bad effort.
But unfortunately, so many are not doing it right. People are gathering in a room, around a shared table. I often hear, “It’s OK, they are family and people we know.” None of us are actually that stupid. Some of us just choose to recite that mantra as an excuse. It has zero value.
If I sound a bit angry about all this, it’s because I am, for two reasons.
One, this is a shared experience in the most fundamental way. Your choice to be careless puts countless other people at risk. You could be spreading this thing to literally dozens of people through serial transmission for two weeks and never know you were the carrier.
Two, people in the medical profession are literally risking their lives and incurring long term PTSD to save us all. This is how we thank them?
How much suffering by others is worth your few hours of gathering together?
The Grinch Speaks
So, some good ideas to help out follow here. But after these ideas, steps I would like to take if I were King/Grinch for a Day.
The good ideas: (1) Follow Biden’s lead in the theme that mask wearing and shared sacrifice are patriotic. (2) Combine the need for an economic stimulus with public health by paying people to get the shots. (3) Have Dr Fauci get his shot on live TV and play the tape everywhere. (4) Once shots are widely available, no use of any public transportation for a few months without a card verifying you have the shots.
The Grinch Ideas:
(1) Once shots are available, issue IDs that verify the bearer has the shots. Places of business that screen for the cards go to 100% capacity immediately. Those that do not stay at severely limited capacity until the nation is largelyvaccinated.
(2) As part of mask and gathering restrictions, cite those who violate the rules. Either enter them in a data base (which makes a lot of us nervous, I know) or stamp them with a marker that will not wash off for a month. If you show up at a hospital with that marker on you or your name in the data base, go home. You made your choice. You are not welcome in overcrowded hospitals run by exhausted care givers.
(3) Large parties and similar gatherings? Everyone gets arrested on the spot. Arrestees are taken to someplace like a fairground, with minimal facilities. Welcome to your new home for 14 days. You don’t get to put innocent people at risk because you were too selfish to discipline yourself. As a side note, perhaps we could get the governor of South Dakota to run on of these facilities. She seems an excellent choice.
Time Will Tell
As I said, the Grinch list is probably over the top for a lot of good reasons. But if I could…
I expect that about 7-10 days after this is published, we will see the post-Thanksgiving surge of infections. Followed about 10 days later with a surge in deaths. Who knows, maybe that will sober us up for Christmas. We can always hope.
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