Preparing for a COVID Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is arguably the most family-oriented holiday in America .. even more so than Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Christmas. On the family side, YMMV .. this is, of course, my opinions are always subject to debate.

Thanksgiving is also arguably the most inside-oriented holiday. There’s a big table with lots of folks, great food and energetic conversations. It’s the opportunity to share, argue or defend your politics, opinions, preferences .. or just to listen.

Sometimes it’s the first time the significant other meets the broader family unit, or for us to set a place for those who cannot attend. 

It’s always the time to catch up with everyone. Everyone, from near and from far .. and for those to who travel from there to here, and back there again, and vice-versa.

Yes, I’m about to make a point. Brace yourself.

Now, we have COVID. COVID proudly delivers a whole new set of stressors for the holidaze .. well beyond how you’re wearing your hair or your jeans, or if you’re married, or not, or who did what to whom? Who loved whom more? Which uncle is going to embarrass us the most this year?

You get the drift.

This Thanksgiving will be unlike any other. We’ve heard suggested restrictions on travel (I hope most of us will follow these), where best to eat (outside), what to avoid (buffet lines .. have one masked server), what to embrace (an open window) .. you see where I’m going.

COVID-19 doesn’t care about friends, partners, spouses and family, except as to how people serve as a reservoir as it continues to travel the country. Folks who come and go can bring it from there to here .. and / or get it here and take it there.

We have vaccines on the horizon, but they won’t be here until mid-2021 for most of us. We do have masks, and we do have our behaviors .. and we should make the best use of both.

Don’t make this the last time you or your significant other meets with your broader friends and family. Take all the precautions you can to ensure you can enjoy(!) your family for years to come. This year, spend the holiday in your bubble and plan to spend the next Thanksgiving with all of us together.

Be smart. Be an adult. Do the right thing. Protect yourself and your family.

Get Well, Mr President

America awoke to hearing President Trump and his wife tested positive for COVID-19.  The exposure presumably came from Hope Hicks, a senior adviser close to The President .. but of course, could have been the other way around. Ms Hicks is reportedly having symptoms, but we may also presume that she wasn’t exhibiting symptoms at the time The President was exposed.

I am sincere in my get well wish for all of the affected people in the White House, as well as around the world. This demonstrates the severity and the transmission risks of this virus needs to be respected. One could argue that the White House hasn’t taken the these risks pandemic seriously enough, and may not have been protecting themselves and each other to the necessary scale to ensure a safe environment.

Enough on that.

Here’s where it gets dodgy. The President, his senior adviser and a lot of a staff were in contact over the past few days, .. The Vice President, the debate, rallies, meetings with the Supreme Court nominee .. and the list goes on. We know the Supreme Court nominee (who just tested negative) also met with several members of the Senate.

Outside the White House, we know that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who regularly meets with The President was also meeting with Nancy Pelosi, The Speaker of the House. At this point, ‘everyone’ has been tested .. results will drip out over time, so I’m not even going to try to keep this current.

The 25th Amendment to the Constitution is titled “Presidential Vacancy, Disability and Inability”, and outlines how to arrive at the Line of Succession (Wikipedia link .. I’m sure there’s an official version) should The President fall ill. I am not suggesting The President will invoke this, or that it will be invoked for him .. but we must consult the official list and ensure these individuals are tested and stay safe.

The Line of Succession ensures we make it clear to potential adversaries that our decision infrastructure is in place.

Everyone needs to follow the White House Guidelines for Coronavirus protection .. including the White House. It comes with some irony that the document behind this link is more about re-opening .. and doesn’t reference masks.

Be smart. Be an adult. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

“If I Die, I Die”

Spoken by a non-mask wearing rally attendee.

Fair .. free country, free choice and all that. It is clearly your free choice to put yourself into a position to catch COVID-19 .. for whatever reasons you choose .. even if you choose negligence. It’s your choice.;

However .. speaking of fair .. is it fair for you to catch COVID-19 at such an event, and:

  • You infect the server at a diner or the gas station attendant as you drive to your home? They:
    • Infect their kids.
    • Their kids infect their teacher.
    • The teacher infects his / her kids?
  • You infect the pastor at your church, who:
    • Infects other parishioners.
    • They infect their adult kids.
    • Their adult kids infect their children.
    • Their children infect their teachers.
    • Their teachers infect their kids?
  • You infect other non-mask-wearing individuals at your (insert hobby here) club members? They:
    • Infect other (insert hobby here) club members.
    • They infect their kids (adult or young).
    • They infect their teachers or their kids .. Or their teacher’s kids, by proxy ..

All because of your bravado and “If I die, I die” proclamation?

You’re exercising your rights .. it’s not against the law (depending on state or local jurisdictions) to go without a mask, but it is an affront to decency, safety and common sense.

Be fair .. Be fair to yourself .. You don’t want to catch this crap.

Be fair to your fellow humans.

Be smart. Be an adult. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

Georgia on my Mind (Part II)

Georgia (the state in which I live) has not done well with the Coronavirus response. At the Georgia Governor’s behest:

The White House Coronavirus Task Force just informed Georgia (my paraphrase): you’re doing it wrong .. fix this. This is reported in detail in the Atlanta Journal Commerce in “White House warns of ‘widespread and expanding’ COVID-19 spread in Georgia“.

We (Georgia) are doing it wrong. Schools are being opened carelessly, and now cases are spiking and staff and students are being quarantined.

I try to avoid political references in this forum, but we have a Republican Governor who seems to be playing to an audience of One. Enough of politics for this post.

Enough of politics when making health safety decisions .. “When you Mix Politics and Science ..“, guess what you get?

Enough of making careless, unsafe decisions where public health and safety are concerned. The numbers have been going in the wrong direction, referenced in “Here We Were Again ..” back in June. It’s worse today.

I’m not suggesting we all hide at home again .. I feel we can do some simple and cost-effective things to manage this while we have longer-term protections:

  • Follow the three “Ws:”
    • Watch your distance
    • Wash your hands
    • Wear a mask
  • Mandate mask usage in public so it stops being a political or opinion issue. It’s not suppression of your personal freedom .. it’s protecting everyone else around you, and it’s the decent and human thing to do.
  • Listen to the Scientists and not the Politicians.

We need to fix testing .. Or at the least, impose post-test isolation practices until the results come back. Painful, I know .. but it’s the only way to slow the spread.

Anyhow .. my trigger was the close-to-home news, so I’ll stop going on.

Be smart. Be an adult (even if you’re a kid, because you can spread it too). Even if you’re an adult kid, like me. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

It Takes a Village ..

I posted “It Takes A Village .. And An Army” some time ago.

This is different.

While originally attributed to Hillary Clinton, presented in the phrase’s eponymous text, the intent is clear: children grow into maturity at a sum that is (hopefully) greater than the input of their parents, their schools and their Communities.

Healthy Communities care for us all.  They consist of people who jump cars when batteries have died .. jump out of their cars to help push a stalled car into the shoulder .. who dial 9-1-1 when something is amiss in the neighborhood.

Our Communities have cared for us during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve contributed to food banks, maintained safe distances when we pass each other during walks or at the markets, and talked with each other to ease our isolation.

Now to the children:

  • Our Country needs to employ our people at a measure greater than allowed when parents are compelled to go beyond ‘normal’ parenting by remaining home full-time. Parents are performing daycare and education .. beyond just being parents. This takes time, and when schools are closed, this keeps parents at home. Parents do it, to ensure family safety and the safety of the Community, however with a significant economic impact to themselves and to our Country.
  • Parents need to go to work .. this is obvious, and we all understand it. Many parents do not have a WFH option, and even if they do, prolonged child care will cut into their productivity and effectiveness .. Again risking significant economic impact to themselves and our Country.
  • Children need to be in an environment other than the home for enough of their lives to benefit from peer / social integration, community awareness and third-party checkpoints as to their health and welfare.

So, given that schools appear to be opening prematurely and carelessly in several US markets (including Georgia, where I live), and as evidenced from Israel’s catastrophic school opening in May .. what are we thinking? These careless, half-starts that result (again) in distance learning should be a non-starter when measured against a more sensible approach.

So here’s one .. let’s Engage the Village.

  • Identify parents that can host safe (call it a ‘bubble’) environment of connected families.
  • Ensure the parents are compensated (not always cash) for their time with our children.
  • Release other parents, either full-time, or on a respected cadence, to work or to take their shifts within their ‘bubble’.

Oversimplified, I agree. A Bubble is only as good as those who remain in it .. and there is always a risk for those therein when others from outside pass into it (without a 14-day isolation effort). The Bubble has worked for the NBA and NHL so far (a kudos to the team members), but the lack of a bubble is decimating the MLB and making NFL and College Sports a non-starter this season.

The Bubble can work. Consider “See Hawaiian hotel turned into ‘bubble’ college campus“. This is a real-life project, where students would occupy rooms, studying via distance learning .. but be enabled with an environment that allows them to wander out to an on-site Hub, an on-site Library, the camaraderie of campus life .. in a protected beach setting.

Your mileage may vary .. but consider this. For the proper, motivated and cautious Communities .. There are aspects of this strategy that could return children to attended school, parents to work and help to fulfill those whose gifts are in caring for others.

Please think about it.

Be smart. Join or form your Community. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

Whimsy: Time to Take an “Ocho” Break

When I started / restarted this forum (more than once since 2005), I reiterate that my content mix is approximately 1/3 each of original content, reposts / redirects, and whimsy.

It’s past time (again) for a little whimsy .. my last whimsical post was on April 20th (nigh on four months ago “What’s different?“, where I reference the oft-repeated discussion about pants in the in-COVID world (and other things).

Okay .. back to The Ocho. Many will remember the reference to “ESPN 8 .. The Ocho” in “Dodgeball. An Underdog’s Story”, a movie about, well, winning at Dodgeball to save a business.

Whimsy .. whimsy .. no references to current events.

Well, one reference: ESPN, recognizing the need for individual sports AND the opportunity to capitalize (in a good way .. thank you very much) on a terrific reference, launched “The Ocho” (for reals) on August 8th (8/8 .. get it?), featuring:

  • Cheese Rolling, Frog Jumping & Japanese Monster Wrestling.
  • World Deadlift Attempt: Hafthor Deadlift.
  • 2019 Grit ‘N Wit National College Championship.
  • Ohio Grocery Baggers Bowl 2020.
  • 2019 Stupid Robot Fighting League (who could go wrong with this?)
  • 2019 Jelle’s Marble Runs.
  • 2019 Death Diving World Championship.
  • Slippery Stairs.
  • Slippery Stairs: College Tour (do we still have in-person colleges?)
  • 2019 ITSF Foosball World Cup.
  • FOOSBALLERS.

I am somehow reminded of Beer Pong in Las Vegas (rescheduled due to the pandemic), which can be played at O’Sheas, once re-opened, post-pandemic. I’m confident they will make their way onto “The Ocho”.

Kudos ESPN.

For the rest of us: Be smart. Be an adult (even if you’re a kid, because you can spread it too). Even if you’re an adult kid. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

Kids Say the Darnedest Things ..

.. even when they’re adults.

For background, Representative Louis Gohmert steadfastly refused to wear a mask whilst in the Capitol .. and then he tested positive for the virus. Famous for saying “If I get COVID, I’ll wear a mask, he was administered a pre-flight test (on Air Force One, no less) and was compelled to skip a trip to Texas with our famously germophobic President.

Then he blamed the mask for giving him COVID-19.

Ignorant. I take no pleasure in seeing Nature prove him wrong. It hurts my heart that he tested positive .. that he may have spread to others in The House and Senate.

For the record, there are 100 Senators and 435 Representatives, many of whom are over 65 .. 48 in The Senate and 147 in The House (updated to reflect the COVID pandemic). 65 and over comprise a higher-risk group for having serious complications from the disease.

His daughter spoke up today: “Rep. Louie Gohmert’s daughter rebukes him for not wearing a mask before coronavirus diagnosis“. Her quote:

“Wearing a mask is a non-partisan issue. The advice of medical experts shouldn’t be politicized. My father ignored medical expertise and now he has Covid”

She’s right. She made a more pointed follow-up quote that speaks to political attitudes about wearing masks in this country, but as I avoid politics herein, please read the entire article and make your own political decision .. but please, please, please make the proper, common-sense and medical decision.

Let’s close this off .. please step away from the politics and into wearing a mask. You’re not proving anything positive .. And risk making yourself and others COVID-positive.

Be smart. Be an adult (even if you’re a kid, because you can spread it too). Even if you’re an adult kid. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

Thank You Georgia Mayors ..

.. Atlanta, Dunwoody, Athens, Savannah ..

.. all of whom have mandated wearing masks.

Thank you again which resulted in a misguided Georgia Governor response .. note that this only against the Atlanta Mayor (for now).

Go figure. The CDC says:

Stop.

This is exposing people who don’t need to be exposed .. killing the most vulnerable among us.

Buy a mask. Wear a mask.

Be smart. Be an adult (even if you’re a kid, because you can spread it too). Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

When you Mix Politics and Science ..

.. you get Politics. Referenced herein in the New York Times, but I think the original attribution goes to conservative writer George Will. Thank you, George Will.

So, we have politics.

With or without the politics, we have greater and greater positivity numbers. Please note that I didn’t say ‘test numbers’. Testing doesn’t cause the infection .. it detects it. Please, let’s stay close to the facts.

Oh .. The facts (as of this writing):

  • 3,739,726 US cases.
  • 140,294 US deaths.
  • 18.7% positivity rate in Florida (the present global epicenter). This is the percentage of positive test results .. the rate of which represents community spread (where one person can infect others).
  • 20% positivity rate in Austin, TX ..
  • 37% in Arizona .. and the list goes on to lesser degrees .. 5% is considered urgent.

Some notes for your reference:

I penned “I’m Confused ..” on June 14th, summarizing the cacophony and inconsistency on the messaging from myriad sources.

VP Mike Pence published (note I didn’t say ‘penned’) “There is no Second Wave” on June 16th .. just over a month ago.

Pence was wrong.

Well, wait. In a tragic way, he was right, but only in that we are still in the first wave and not the second. This is worse, because we’re in the season that is typically quiet for virus spread.  On June 28th, I posted “Here We Were Again ..“, where I described this as a tide, and not a wave .. according to the experts, we’ll see the wave when cold and flu season returns in the fall. Mr. Pence is not referring to that ‘wave’ .. Johns Hopkins confirms this and goes into much more detail in “First and Second Waves of Coronavirus“.

:: sigh ::

Testing is so backed up in some areas (Georgia included), that it takes over five days to get a result, positive or negative. This means that people who are tested should be quarantined until they get their results. I’m near-certain that people are not doing that, and are instead, celebrating their results when they come in .. but not knowing if they have the virus from the previous days’ activities.

Some facts:

  • We need more tests and faster test result turnaround.
  • We need those who have taken tests to isolate until they get their results.
  • We need everyone to wear a mask. I go deep on this in “Wear / Where’s Your Mask?” back in early May.
  • We need everyone to “Behave like you have it ..“.

Apologies. I’m going on and on and on here .. happens when I have the news on in the background.

Let’s close this off .. please step away from the politics and into wearing a mask.

Be smart. Be an adult (even if you’re a kid, because you can spread it too). Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

If You Care About ..

Seriously .. This is simple. I talked about this in “Wear / Where’s Your Mask?

If you care about:

  • Sending kids to school in September .. wear a mask.
  • Our economic recovery .. wear a mask.
  • Going to a restaurant or a bar .. wear a mask.
  • Going to the grocery store .. wear a mask.
  • Traveling anywhere .. wear a mask.
  • Keeping your parents healthy .. wear a mask.
  • Keeping your congregation healthy .. wear a mask.

I literally and intentionally sound like a broken record. It’s on purpose. Given all the numbers, wearing a mask is the least-expensive and most-effective tool in our arsenal.

We all get to shape our future. Please do your part.

Be smart. Be an adult. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

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