A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lynn James: Christmas came and went — and the COVID virus is still with us, as we greet the New Year

Christmas still came. In spite of the COVID Grinch, Christmas still came. We could see it happening. More packages being delivered. More cars on the roads headed to stores. More groceries being bought during the last days before Christmas.  Yes, even COVID couldn’t stop our desire and drive to celebrate Christmas this year.

And why shouldn’t we?

It’s been a long, tough year for all of us. We needed the relief by stepping outside the “COVID bubble” and celebrating a holiday without it. It felt good! It felt familiar! It felt as close to normal as we could get this year! Celebrating our love for each other before we send this year off with a bang was perfect. Sending off 2020 and our coronavirus memories with it will be epic.

But there’s one catch. The coronavirus isn’t leaving at the end of the year. In fact, it is becoming stronger with more mutated strands being discovered and ravaging our friends overseas. It is being fueled with more strength by our holiday visits with each other often throwing caution to the cold wind and a careless sense of safety.

Hopefully, most still tried to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus while we celebrated together, although it’s hard to imagine wearing masks around family. Once restaurants opened again after Thanksgiving, gathering with friends for a pre-Christmas or pre-New Year meal didn’t require masks for anyone – whether they were in your germ circle or not.

Seems like the best we can hope for is that COVID only infects those of us who are the strongest to fight it. That those infected won’t need emergency trips by our EMTs to the ER to be rehydrated and sent home with a heavy cough or a stay at the hospital on oxygen or a ventilator for weeks in one of the remaining beds, if there are any available. 

We have set ourselves up for this fate.

Now if we can all get through it. It will take several months before we’ll know how much our holiday fun will cost us not only in human lives, but in quality of life for those who survive this wave of the virus.

For our first responders who are running toward the “dangerous fire” every time they are asked to care for and transport one of their COVID patients to the hospital, heaven help them. The same applies – even double or triple so – for our healthcare workers who spend all day caring for those patients – the ones who survive and the ones who don’t. Each day, they try to protect themselves from becoming infected and protect their families as well.

All that they ask of us is to Stay Masked Up and Stay Apart. That’s the way we do our part. So says ER Nurse Terry Foster on a screen displayed on St. Elizabeth Hospital in Covington, largely and clearly visible as we drive down the cut-in-the-hill. Terry has seen the worst of the worst during these coronavirus seasons along with his healthcare comrades.

It’s too late to act safer than we did during the long Christmas holiday weekend.

The best we can do is “quietly” welcome the new year, 2021, into our lives because we can’t send COVID off with 2020. We couldn’t stop COVID-19 from becoming COVID-19/20. And we can’t stop COVID-19/20 from becoming COVID-19/20/21.

However, let’s not lose hope. Here’s hoping we can see the positive infection numbers and deaths decline and the threat start to diminish as we approach the March doomsday date when all the precautions started last winter with shutting down businesses and schools. Yes, it’s been almost a full year since the coronavirus chaos grew in our states as we watched it tear China and Europe apart. The vaccines on the horizon will continue to provide major relief into this spring and summer. 

We know what we are in for this time, and we know how to stop it with the vaccines giving us a very needed, added boost.  If we only do our part now… now that we have had our fun… the only fun we could manage to have in the now infamous year 2020.

Lynn James is a lifelong resident of Northern Kentucky and has lived in Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties. She enjoys living and observing real life with real people.

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