The Life-or-Death Dilemma of Thanksgiving 2020
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The Life-or-Death Dilemma of Thanksgiving 2020

Are you willing to risk it all for family time during a…

In mid-October, Japanese researchers released an animation that used a supercomputer to examine how particles spread when sitting at a table — a terrifying but informative way to learn of just how risky it is to reach over for cornbread dressing during a pandemic.

(And before anyone starts, yes, it’s still dressing, not stuffing. It will always be this way because that is the correct way.)

The visual, however, indirectly confirms my fears that America is really fucked this holiday season. Joe Biden may be the president-elect, but he, vice president-elect (Howard University’s own) Kamala Harris, and the rest of us still have to contend with the current administration’s “let them die” approach to the medical crisis. That approach has yielded significant, historic levels of loss of life that’s only growing.

Speaking to 60 Minutes anchor Lesley Stahl (post-President Trump storming off and refusing to continue the interview with Pence as originally planned), Vice President Pence noted that “Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays” and “I’m looking forward to it with our family.” When asked about the exact size of the family gathering — an attempt to elicit advice from Pence to Americans — he predictably avoided a declarative statement. “I think that’s a decision every American family can make based on the circumstances in their community, the vulnerability of particular family members,” Pence said.

Pence is the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force at a time when coronavirus cases in the United States have accelerated to more than 100,000 cases a day. This is impotent messaging that once again places the onus of a collective burden on the individual to solve. Unsurprisingly, after Pence offered these useless words, his chief of staff, body man, and senior aide all reportedly contracted the coronavirus by month’s end.

In a whistleblower complaint filed in May, former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official Rick Bright said the country faces its “darkest winter” if pandemic planning falters.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now projects that there will be 250,000 to 266,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. by November 28. Should these numbers climb as expected, this country could see upward of 2,000 deaths a day that could lead to a projected 390,000 deaths by February.

I find it so sad that those numbers will only climb because a significant portion of the population has become so numb to both the pandemic and deaths around them. And I don’t fault everyone for it. People need to be led and this country’s leadership has failed.

Many of us have tried to do the right thing. We have forsaken our own happiness for the greater good, while much of the country has followed the advice of the Trump administration and carried on. People have gone on vacations. People have continued partying at the club or in the very indoor gatherings that have caused a rise in cases.

I can understand the temptation to finally leave the house to be around people you love. I know because I finally gave in to it last month. My plan for 2020 was to release a book and spend my year between Texas and California. I ended up stuck in New York City for a lot longer than I intended.

I ended up flying back home to Texas, mainly to vote. But I couldn’t miss the chance to see my mom.

Still, when I decided to travel home, I wore an N95 mask and medical goggles on the plane. I looked hot and goofy, but I felt like I was doing the right thing. I immediately got tested. I did not stay with my family. I wore a mask for days and kept my distance until both tests I took were negative.

The only other person I saw was a friend outside and with a mask.

I also rolled my eyes at everyone in Houston who didn’t have a mask on, knowing damn well they won’t have the connect like Chris Christie.

There’s no perfect answer on what to do this holiday season, but above all, we should at least be cognizant of the reality that all of our choices right now could potentially impact others.

My mom, a nurse, was equal parts impressed and tickled by how paranoid I’ve been.

I tried to be as cautious as possible for what was ultimately a risky choice I made because I couldn’t take being cooped up and alone anymore. But I have to be mindful that whenever I step outside, I am gambling with my life as well as the lives of others. There’s no perfect answer on what to do this holiday season, but above all, we should at least be cognizant of the reality that all of our choices right now could potentially impact others.

Mike Pence is supposed to be a Christian, but he rhetorically sucks off a serially accused rapist and generally horrible human being, so it’s fitting that he didn’t bother to try to call on us to be a little more selfless a little while longer if we can all help it, or at the very least, don’t act recklessly.

Pence could have mirrored the advice of Dr. Fauci, who admitted that he didn’t want to be a “Grinch that stole the holidays” in one recent interview, but every chance he gets, stresses the realities of the holiday season.

“Given the fluid and dynamic nature of what’s going on right now in the spread and the uptick of infections, I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings, particularly when members of the family might be at a risk because of their age or their underlying condition,” Fauci told CBS Evening News’ Norah O’Donnell. “Namely, you may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected.”

As someone who has been struggling with loneliness, I have really missed my family, and as I get older, have regretted not spending enough time with them. I have spent multiple holidays without my family. Some were spent with friends, some were spent alone. Most of them were enjoyable, or at least, not unbearable. A few of them felt flat-out painful.

I understand both the highs and lows of being alone, but I also keep in mind that no matter what I do in the months ahead, whatever I do for individual happiness has to be met with caution and consideration. I will soon be relocating in a pandemic, which makes me even more concerned about my health and those I love.

But this is something I will constantly keep in mind: As of mid-September, “1 in 1,020 Black Americans has died (or 97.9 deaths per 100,000)” according to the APM Research Lab.

Not everyone will agree with what I have written, but I hope we can all agree that this is a fate none of us wants to face.