Trigger warning: I’m fairly hardboiled, but this one got to me…
There is a real human toll to President Trump's failed leadership.
We can't forget that. pic.twitter.com/03ajrVUQh1
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 25, 2020
Since both my and the Spousal Unit’s natal families are widely scattered, our Big Annual Holiday Gathering for the last forty years or so has been a ‘hobbit bloat’ where the friends we made at Tolkien Fellowship / SCA / SF Society college clubs would get together, alternately in the Hoboken and Boston areas. That’s not happening this year, of course. And even though I didn’t always appreciate the sometimes forced cameraderie, it’s making me a little sad now, which puts me in the same place as… well, most of us.
From Joel Achenbach at the Washington Post, “As holidays near, the coronavirus is spreading rapidly, putting families in a quandary about celebrations and travel”:
Barbara Alexander’s Christmas tradition is to drive 2½ hours to the 40-acre farm her parents bought seven decades ago in southeastern North Carolina. It’s a big affair: 35 family members arrive by Christmas Eve.
This year, she is thinking: wait till next year. She’ll stay home in Durham, N.C., with her husband, teenage son and 96-year-old mother, Marble Dudley. As a physician and the president-elect of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Alexander is fully aware of the risks of holiday gatherings in the middle of a pandemic and the vulnerability of her nonagenarian mother.
“Covid doesn’t care that it’s a holiday, and unfortunately covid is on the rise across the nation,” she said. “Now is not the time to let our guard down and say it’s the holiday and let’s be merry. I think we need to maintain our vigilance here.”…
The government’s top doctors have said they believe the recent national spike in infections has largely been driven by household transmission. Superspreader events have gotten a lot of attention, but it’s the prosaic meals with family and friends that are driving up caseloads.
This trend presents people with difficult individual choices — and those choices carry societal consequences. Epidemiologists look at the broad effect of a contagion, not simply the effects on individuals. Thanksgiving, for example, is an extremely busy travel period in America. The coronavirus exploits travelers to spread in places where it has been sparse or absent.
“I am nervous about Thanksgiving,” said Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist at the University of California at Irvine. “I’m nervous because I know what happens when you multiply the risks by millions of households.”
The scientists are not telling people to cancel their holiday plans, necessarily. But they are urging people to think of alternative ways to celebrate. They do not say it explicitly, but they are encouraging a kind of rationing of togetherness…