By Chris B. Bennett, The Seattle Medium
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t have at least three conversations about COVID-19. I’ve talked to survivors, those who have loved ones who have died, those who have cried, and I’ve even talked to a few people who have lied or tried to hide their positive COVID status. But the hardest conversation to have are with people who I’ve known for some time that either a) have contracted COVID-19 or b) have someone in their household that has contracted the virus, and they are busy trying to tend to their loved ones and trying to stay safe in their home at the same time.
Since the Thanksgiving holiday, the numbers of cases across the country, including right here in King County, have spiked. We’ve seen a record number of new infections. And I have talked to more people than I care to admit that have tested positive for COVID as a result of family gatherings around Thanksgiving.
As a person trusted to arm the public with information, I’ve received a lot of calls from people over the years who contact me after the fact. People who are wishing they could roll back the hands of time and do things slightly different. After spending the better part of the year staying safe, now is not the time for people to let down their guards. Trust me you don’t want to spend the last few weeks of the year, or the beginning of the new year, in isolation or in a hospital bed.
One conversation that I recently had involved a family that decided to have a “low-key Thanksgiving with just a few family members.” However, word spread among family members that they were having Thanksgiving at their house, which historically has been the primary destination for all family members on holidays, and people, who were not officially invited, started showing up. The doorbell rang time and time again as sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews made their way to the house for a good meal and reminiscent conversations. Some of them, despite current COVID restrictions, even brought a girlfriend or boyfriend with them.
“What do you say when they are sitting at your door and know that everyone else is inside,” said a woman, whose husband tested positive for COVID a few weeks after their holiday celebration. “Most of them came to the door wearing masks but once they started eating the masks started disappearing.”
Unfortunately, the woman is not alone, as I’ve heard similar stories from other people. Some gatherings were large, some were small, and many had gatherings where no one, to date, has said they were sick. And while we might not know the full impact that holiday gatherings have had on our community for some time now, health officials are warning us to avoid social gatherings altogether over the holidays.
In an effort to curb the alarming trends related to gatherings under COVID, Gov. Jay Inslee has issued new guidance which includes the prohibition of indoor social gatherings with people from outside your household unless they (a) quarantine for fourteen days (14) prior to the social gathering; or (b) quarantine for seven (7) days prior to the social gathering and receive a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 48-hours prior to the gathering.
“We are still seeing some alarming trends in our data as we wait to see the full impact of any gatherings that took place over Thanksgiving,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “We must stay the course going into winter holidays to avoid overwhelming our hospitals. While there are reasons to feel hopeful, including our progress toward distributing COVID-19 vaccine, right now we need to continue to make the choices we know will slow transmission. Mask up, gather remotely and stay at home as much as possible.”
While many of us have been lucky enough not to know anyone who has contracted or died of COVID that does not mean that COVID is some sort of urban legend, political hoax or is part of some conspiracy theory. COVID is real and we should not believe or act otherwise, because the conversation is much different when COVID is in your home.
Through the eyes of an ink barrel, may peace be unto you!