It’s been a hard nine months. The next few are going to be harder. It’s our first pandemic holiday season, political tensions are extreme and will continue that way well into 2021, and then we’ll be coming up on the first anniversary of the first round of state-imposed COVID restrictions and recommendations.
Where will we be then? That depends on what we do now.
We are being asked to do a lot, and give up a lot, and trust a lot, because there is so much at stake. Our lives, our livelihoods, our health care system, our sense of community — all are in critical condition, primed for the intensive care unit. Or worse. We wait for vaccines that may or may not work, scanning the news for hopeful headlines. But again and again, it has to be explained that vaccines are not a cure for the coronavirus. Vaccines are preventatives — if they work, and if people accept them.
Absent vaccines, there are preventatives we can take advantage of. If only we would. The horrifying raw numbers demonstrate that many Americans are not even thinking about prevention, or the consequences of ignoring protocols that could save lives. Politics, defiance, ignorance — and, when we are feeling uncharitable toward the selfish stance of the anti-mask freedom fakers, arrogance — have not only made the pandemic harder to contain but also more deadly by the day.
The facts are not in dispute: The pandemic is now beyond a curve or a wave, it’s a tsunami engulfing the country. That was predicted, by people who actually know what they are talking about, like Dr. Anthony Fauci — who gets death threats for his trouble.
At this point, the deniers, the hoaxers and every useless idiot the White House trots out to lie on Fox News are irrelevant. They think what they think, believe what they believe, and they are wrong. Too many people in the media treat them as if they have something important to say, or that they represent a legitimate viewpoint. They do not. They are an impediment to the nation’s recovery.
But not even deniers, hoaxers, spineless politicians or ignorant people deserve to get sick or die from the coronavirus. Faced with staggering increases in infections and deaths, and an overwhelmed health care system that is losing people daily to exhaustion, frustration or COVID, even some Republican red state governors are imposing restrictions. Too little, too late, but something at least.
Gov. Jay Inslee has taken a lot of flak for his hard-nosed approach to containing the virus, even as he continues to stress voluntarily compliance over enforcement. He’s doing the right thing by asking us to cooperate in containing the pandemic. This might be our last best chance to keep COVID from morphing into an even more catastrophic plague.
All we have to do is give up our holidays.
OK, not funny. But the impending holiday season can either be the best opportunity for the virus to explode, or our best opportunity to slow it down. That will mean sacrifice, inconvenience, disrupted seasonal activities, and perhaps fatal consequences for many small businesses.
No question, the restrictions the governor imposed this week portend a bleak holiday season by traditional standards, without the usual human contact and shared experiences that are so important to us at this time of year. It’s hard to believe that the restrictions will be significantly eased in a month.
Those restrictions — on almost any gatherings, on restaurants and bars, on gyms and indoor sports, on retail operations, on weddings, funerals and church services — will affect all of us in one way or another. We’ll feel it in the valley, where tourism is likely to be impacted despite a fortuitous early season snow covering. People will still want to come, but tourism services will be limited and visitors can’t just camp out all over the place like they did last summer. We’ll adapt, like we always do, and maintain the best possible attitude.
Of all the things we are being asked to endure, the simplest, most-effective one seems to be the least popular.
So what? It’s really easy.
Just wear a mask.
Just wear a mask. They’re plentiful to come by, and don’t have to be uncomfortable.
Just wear a mask, if nothing else. You’ll be helping protect other people, and yourself.
Just wear a mask.
How hard is that? How in the world is that too much to ask?
And why do we have to keep asking?