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Are We Leveling Off?

December 20, 2020
by Mark David Siegel

Why would you want to be one of the people who is the last person to get infected? It’s almost like being the last person to get killed in a war. You want to hang in there and protect yourself, because the end is in sight.

-Anthony Fauci

Hi everyone,

Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I think the latest COVID wave is sputtering, at least in Connecticut. Cases and hospitalizations seem to be leveling off.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, particularly with caseloads still overwhelming the country. My sister’s local hospital in Pasadena has run out of ICU beds, and the same could happen here if cases start climbing again. But for today anyway, let’s assume the curve is bending and, if true, let’s ask what we’re doing right, because we should do more of it.

Perhaps the leveling off is just a random fluctuation, though I doubt this. It’s certainly not due to policy changes, as the government continues to resist calls to close indoor restaurant dining, despite pleas from physicians, scientists, and public health experts. Though indoor dining remains a source of spread, government action is just one of many ways to fight the pandemic.

I suspect Connecticut residents aren’t waiting for policies to save them. According to data from Carnegie Mellon, we’re ranked fifth in the nation in mask-wearing and forty-ninth in restaurant visits. If my experience getting takeout at Mecha on Friday night is any indication, people are deciding on their own to stay safe, considering how many empty tables I saw.*

We may also be leveling off because the Thanksgiving bump is dissipating, but herein lies the concern, because bigger holidays are coming. Over Christmas and New Year’s, many will be tempted to celebrate indoors despite the risk. As we enter this holiday week, let’s take care not to misinterpret the leveling off. We need to hunker down so the numbers don’t rise again. It’s not just for ourselves: in the spirit of the season, let’s consider the well-being of frontline workers and marginalized people, whose circumstances make it impossible for them to socially distance. When we do our part to stop the spread, we don’t just protect ourselves, we protect everyone. This week, as we pass through the winter solstice, we begin our journey back to the light. But while we can rely on the earth’s orbit to return us to sunnier days, we must rely on ourselves to reach the light at the end of this dark tunnel. Don’t get distracted by sparkly but dangerous temptations. Instead, let’s celebrate safely now so we can have a bigger, brighter celebration when the pandemic finally—and really—ends.

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone. Stay safe,

Mark

*I had Kimchi Ramen

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Submitted by Mark David Siegel on December 20, 2020