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COVID-19 and the Holidays: Timely Tips for the New Year

By Billy Mathis, FCSI, CDT posted 12-24-2020 11:37


I was reminded by a good friend and co-worker that we humans need to learn from our experiences. As he put it “Experience is THE best Teacher.”

However, multigenerational remembrance is something we are not good at. If we were, the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 should have taught the world a valuable lesson. It did for the next two or three generations, but the subsequent generations failed to heed the lessons learned back then since it hasn’t happened in their span of their collective memory. Because of this we have repeated many of the same mistakes. 

With at least 50 million dead worldwide, you would think that we could at least have protocols in place should something like this happens again. But we didn’t think, in this age of high-tech medicine, that something like that could happen again. We were wrong.

I know that the bulk of us want things to go back to normal.  I am afraid that “normal” will never return.  With millions currently infected and working through the various stages of the disease, we can never truly go back to like it was.  What we need to remember is:

  1. The simple measures to protect ourselves (wash hands, wear a mask, maintain physical distance, avoid large groups) have worked the best. These simple precautions work as well as any vaccine yet to be released.
  2. We’ve also learned that this virus can be aerosol transmitted at distances greater than six feet and remain in the air much longer than originally thought.
  3. Enclosed spaces, large crowds, and poor ventilation have now been shown to contribute significantly to rapid infection rates. Another reason why our genetic need to gather is not a good thing.
  4. Using today’s technology can be part of helping us to not feel isolated and alone, especially during the upcoming holidays.

This is the time when families come together in multi-generational gatherings to celebrate many things, both personal and religious. We will have the very young and the elderly coming together at a time when they both are highly susceptible to the disease. In addition, many things are shared, families are gathered in very crowded conditions in homes that are not as well ventilated as needed, and in situations where people are eating and drinking together. In this environment, the potential for a Covid-19 outbreak is increased to almost unbearable limits. How do we handle this you may ask?

  1. Consider others in your actions and take the simple and free precautions available to all. While you may that wearing a mask is either bothersome or somehow it should be your choice as to whether to personally wear or not wear a mask, you need to remember, the mask is not only for your protection, but for the protection of all around you, including your kids, your nieces, nephews, and your grandparents.
  2. Consider getting together virtually, sharing meals online using the technology so readily available. While part of the desire to get together is the food and the company, smaller feasts served in multiple locations and connected using wi-fi cameras and systems, could produce many of the same feelings. It won’t be the same, but it should only be for one year.  Just think how great it will be next year when this is all behind us and we can come together again.
  3. Finally, we need to listen to the Experts - Doctors, nurses, and scientists understand what is at risk and make recommendations based on their knowledge and experience. We can trust that they know what they’re talking about. Get the facts and use them to guide you in doing what is right for your situation.

There is some good news.  Vaccines have passed milestone after milestone test and are now a reality and are our best hope of gaining a foothold in the fight against this pandemic. Keep in mind thought that we need to continue wearing cloth masks and respecting others by social distancing which double the effectiveness of any single action.

We will get a handle on the disease and we will get back to some semblance of “Normal.” And our innocence and ignorance of just what a pandemic is and how deadly will be on our minds from this time forward. 

Will there be others, most likely. This type of disease tends to rear its ugly head around every 100 years if not sooner. Basically, our situation is like a card game in that the realities of the virus are the cards we’ve been dealt. We have two options now - we can fold and quit, or we can continue playing with a new strategy based on what we’ve learned through experience.