If you have been keeping up at all with the news the past few weeks, its been a doozy. Everything has been overshadowed by the fact that the President of the United States was diagnosed with COVID after an incredibly irresponsible rollout of his Supreme Court nominee that he had while we are still in a global pandemic and refused to participate in a virtual debate due to issues with the format. Additionally, during the initial Supreme Court confirmation hearings, senators from the opposing party that were both in at least one high risk category hugged each other, completely unmasked.
Hell, typing that made me feel exhausted.
As other countries around the world are beginning to return to a post-pandemic “normal” to varying degrees, the United States is still stuck in a situation where we are still, as a country, on the flatline of a first wave that is slowly coming back up
At this point, regardless of how the election goes, regardless of whether my State of Colorado decides to go back into Shelter in Place, and regardless of what family members think about it, I cannot justify interstate travel for the holidays, or even traveling within the state to see relatives at this point.
In anticipation of arguments that people, including family members, will have against my decision, I have put together a quick FAQ that I will submit to anyone that asks.
- Aren’t you personally in a fairly low risk category and wouldn’t be severely affected by COVID-19?
While, as a relatively healthy 28 year old man, I would be less likely to come down with the most severe symptoms of COVID-19, I also have the potential to carry the disease in an asymptomatic way. I have a 93 year old grandmother that has had several health problems over the course of the past couple decades external to COVID and a couple of friends and family that are immuno-compromised that I also would not want to spread COVID to. Additionally, I know I am not invincible. Several articles have come out in regards to people in their 20’s and 30’s that caught the virus in March and, as I am writing this in October, they still have symptoms/are not fully recovered.
Also, I am not doing this for myself. I had an extensive conversation with a friend a couple of nights ago about how, as an immuno-compromised individual, they are at higher risk for catching and experiencing the worst symptoms of the disease, including death. I am doing this for that person. I am doing that for people that cannot leave their house because of individuals that refuse to wear masks. I am doing this for elderly people in my life that I cannot afford to get sick.
2. The United States is going to be flattening the curve anytime now! A Vaccine is right around the corner.
I am going to break this one into 2 parts:
A. While cases in the United States have been relatively steady for the past 2 months, my state of Colorado, particularly in Boulder and Fort Collins, have started to see a third wave emerge primarily associated with the decision of CU Boulder to open for limited in person instruction in the fall. Along with this, Denver Public Schools will be beginning classes for K-5 children in less than a week. There is no political will at the state level to do anything rivaling the shutdown that we had back in March, and the federal government hasn’t shown any leadership as well.
B. I have been off and on following Operation Warp Speed, the US’s approach to getting a vaccine, for the past six months, and its. While approval for a vaccine has been “fast tracked” in the past by the FDA and it predecessors, particularly in regards to polio, it came after decade of research prior to the existence of the FDA and a sitting president (FDR) having the disease. When Jonas Salk started distributing the polio vaccine, the disease had been around for decades. COVID-19 has been around for less than a year.
3. A Biden administration will make things better!
Sure, Biden will probably have a significantly more rational public health policy than Trump, but, to an extent, there is no going back now. Red state governors have fully opened in some regards, and even the ski resorts in Colorado are opening as usual, which is terrifying because COVID-19 started at the resorts. As of October 10th, Colorado has gone above 1,000 cases in a single day, something not seen since the worst surges earlier in the year. Today, as I am revising this article on the morning of October 16th, we have hit over 1200 positive cases in a day . We are in it for the long haul, and only a vaccine or effective treatment will get us out of this crisis. I would hope that a Biden administration would have a rational health policy, but that wouldn’t get us out of the hole we have dug for ourselves.
4. Your family/friends will miss you!
And they will also miss my germs, thankfully. As I mentioned earlier in this piece, my grandmother is 93 years old and has been in and out of the hospital several times over the past decade or so. Zoom exists, google exists. We will make it through. If anyone in my family or friend group does miss me, please reach out to me directly in scheduling a zoom/phone call. I would rather want to see you over a computer screen healthy and alive instead of attending a funeral for you without getting to even be in the same room.
Its a depressing thing to admit to your failures. I have had a ton of issues with this this year on a personal level. But admitting to the failures of your own country, particularly in continually failing to and actively working against its most vulnerable populations, hurts even worse because it affects the ones you love. I hope that, in my decision I have made, I am showing you all that I love you, because I do.
Photo is of US Senators Diane Feinstein (D) of California and Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina hugging after the Amy Coney Barrett hearings. Feinstein and Graham are 87 and 65, respectively, and are on a committee with members that tested positive for COVID-19 Photo Credit to Samuel Corum / Getty Images