This Holiday Season Needs to Be Different

This+holiday+season+presents+us+with+a+choice%3A+either+double+down+on+our+efforts+to+stop+the+spread+of+COVID-19%2C+or+capitulate+under+the+stress+of+pandemic+fatigue+and+ruin+much+of+the+hard+work+we%27ve+put+in+so+far.+Photo+courtesy+of+Pixaby.com.+

This holiday season presents us with a choice: either double down on our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, or capitulate under the stress of pandemic fatigue and ruin much of the hard work we’ve put in so far. Photo courtesy of Pixaby.com.

Jeff Pape and Katie Kempff

We get it. This holiday season, we at The X-Ray would like nothing more than to join together with our cousins, aunts, and uncles in celebration of our having survived a truly infernal year. Oh, how sweet grandma’s homemade apple pie would taste! How wonderful it would be to receive Uncle Dave’s bear-hugs! How incredible it would be to forget all about this terrible nightmare that has befallen us!   

But we’re not doing that. And you know the reason why.  

COVID-19 is surging. Not just in a few spots, but all across the nation, including St. Charles. More daily cases are being reported now than ever before. To put things in perspective, The New York Times reported that the U.S. saw 223,570 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on December 10. That’s approximately 400 times as many new cases as they reported on March 13 (556), the final day East held in-person classes last spring.

We know, for a fact, that this virus spreads easier among people who are indoors, in close proximity, and not wearing masks. That means the holiday season–when millions of hugs, kisses and handshakes are exchanged–presents a huge risk. Seemingly innocuous family dinners have the potential to become superspreader events. An apparent “reprieve” from the year’s hardships may only worsen our country’s condition heading into 2021. As depressing as it may sound, mitigating exposure to other people is the best way to prevent an even larger resurgence in cases.    

These next few weeks will make up a vital stage in the progression of the pandemic. We must choose to either double and triple down on our efforts to slow the virus’ spread, or capitulate and ruin much of the hard work we’ve already put in. Think about it for a minute. What will have been the point of those months-long lockdowns, hundreds of Zoom calls, and thousands of hours spent hunkered down inside if we have to do it all over again? 

This virus is not going to go away on its own. It will take a deliberate, concerted effort to destroy it. Each decision you make is a vote for or against another few weeks of masking wearing, social distancing and virtual school.  True, Pfizer’s vaccine is rolling out.  But it’s going to be months before any of us regular people are able to get it.  The apparent prospect of future salvation is no justification for reckless action in the present that will cost lives.   

It’s important to remember your actions are not isolated. Yes, many of you reading this will probably not die if you contract COVID-19. You’re young, healthy and spry. You’ll likely rebound in a week or two. But this isn’t about you; it’s about those who your actions could affect. It’s about someone’s grandmother, who has a heart condition that puts her at higher risk for the virus. It’s about someone’s brother or sister who has asthma. It’s about someone’s father or mother. Your risk is shared by all of us. By risking possible exposure, you’re putting tens, hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of other lives at risk. You’re blatantly disrespecting the healthcare workers constantly risking their own lives in an effort to keep the rest of us safe.    

There are ways to enjoy the holidays while being COVID-conscious. The recommendations aren’t aimed at ruining the mental health of people across the country–they’re aimed to keep people alive so that future holidays won’t have to go on without them. Taking the chance to enjoy time with your immediate family, including those siblings who might be home from college for a while, can allow for new traditions and memories. Outdoor activities like light shows, with different families or friends in separate cars, let you experience holiday spirit without experiencing higher risks. 

Forgoing or severely limiting holiday celebrations is just not a recommendation.  It’s a moral duty, and an act of solidarity, just as much as wearing a mask is. Zoom dinners and FaceTime calls might not be the most enthralling way to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza, but they’re the right way to do so. Yeah, it’s not going to be as much fun. But losing a little fun right now is better than losing a whole lot later. 

Now is not the time to give in to pandemic fatigue. Doing so will cost lives. Choose your actions wisely.