Friday, November 27, 2020

Thanksgiving reality may cause indigestion

| November 8, 2020 1:00 AM

Here’s something everybody can agree on: Thanksgiving is just two and a half weeks away.

And here’s something that will split the room evenly: With health experts predicting a ferocious COVID-19 punch to the gut in the weeks ahead, big plans for friends and families to unite around the dinner table would best be delayed a year.

That sentence wasn’t easy to write, and not just because it’s so long. We’re all worn out, desperate to cling to that which is familiar and warm. And what’s more comforting than a toast to togetherness to ring in the holiday season before settling down to a record-setting feast with the people we love the most?

What sounds like a surefire cure for virus fatigue could instead be the virus’s best friend. Everybody’s sick and tired of being sick and tired — and of the very real threat the virus poses. It’s understandable that a significant slice of the citizenry is tossing their hands in the air and beckoning the beast, “Give it your best shot, sucka.” These people are tired of running, and sympathy is in order.

But run they must, because our health care systems are too close to being overwhelmed.

"We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality," White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Deborah Birx said earlier this week. "This is not about lockdowns — it hasn't been about lockdowns since March or April. It's about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented."

Can balance be aggressive? Yes. It requires understanding what’s the best thing to do for ourselves but also and particularly for others, and then following through.

Otherwise, even if the vast majority of us come through this viral jungle unscathed, the scales can too easily be tipped toward disaster by filling all the hospital beds and leaving extremely sick patients to suffer or die at home — and possibly spread the illness while they’re dying.

Understood: This editorial tastes like an uncooked turkey leg with oozing green pumpkin pie for dessert. Now that patience is at an absolute premium, it’s in painfully short supply. We want our holiday season served up on a happy platter, virus be damned.

But this year, it might be wise to prepare for the most festive of seasons to be a smaller, quieter affair. We love our traditions, but even they may need a brief vacation once a century or so.