|This is a modified share of my most recent email to my subscribers. I try to keep the blog vs. subscriber content separate and fresh, but this topic hits a number of key points, in addition to being s PSA – pbk|
In case you didn’t see the news as a SoCal resident, the California Department of Public Health has announced that effective immediately, starting tonight at 10 PM (November 21), there is a Limited Stay At Home order in effect from 10 PM until 5:00 AM, extending to December 21.
This is not a curfew, which would imply legal penalties; the local sheriff’s department looks unlikely to ding you. But I sincerely hope that you doing something good doesn’t depend on getting punished for not doing so.
It’s unlikely to affect you unless you make a habit of making In-N-Out or Tommy’s Burger runs at midnight, or have a sudden Jonesing for late night boba drinks or ice cream. And if you have to be out and about because you’re in a critical infrastructure occupation or heading homeward, you’re good.
But the important part of the announcement isn’t the don’t be on the roads part, it’s the limited gathering part:
“Therefore, as the State Public Health Officer, I am issuing a Limited Stay at Home order…requiring that all gatherings with members of other households and all activities conducted outside the residence, lodging, or temporary accommodation with members of other households cease between 10:00pm PST and 5:00am PST.”
As I’ve pointed out before, a Stanford et al study confirms what we have long suspected — but that’s one of the main virtues of a scientific approach, sometimes “obvious” stuff turns out to be dead wrong underneath, it pays to check out a hypothesis — clustered gatherings indoors minus masks are a terrific way to spread the virus. All the “I’m COVID and I’m so thankful you’ve made my replication easy” checkboxes are checked: closer than 6 feet, no masks, enclosed space to allow persistent circulation of aerosolized virus, prolonged exposure so everyone marinates. If just one person in attendance has it, the entire group is off to the races.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are a month after that.
I get it: Life can’t just be about living in pandemic fear. We all need to socialize with our loved ones and friends, and gathering round to share food and warmth is about as basic to humanity as it gets, even predating homo sapiens by a million years.
But I’m hoping that pandemic fatigue doesn’t bite you in the ass.
With the winter cold and influenza season starting up, plus a major COVID surge any week now, plus it getting cold outside and more natural to stay indoors, now is the worst time imaginable to say, Screw it, I’m gonna hug the world, kiss all my peeps, and bray songs at the top of my lungs while swilling booze!
I want to leave you with a nugget, which I’ll be returning to periodically because it applies to much, much more than this situation: the rest pause.
So much suffering can be avoided when we inject a Hold up, hold up for a sec moment before we go galloping off into the night. It’s the space we need to let the higher brains that took us to the Moon win out over our blindly grunting dinosaur brains.
Pause for just a moment and reflect on what’s at stake, and what’s stacked up against you:
At stake: you catching a virus that affects multiple organ systems, has killed more than a quarter million Americans, and that you could spread to others who might not do as well as you (if your own death is the worst thing you can imagine, then your imagination is poor, because being responsible for the death of a loved one is much, much worse).
Stacked against you: by closely gathering indoors, every single trip wire for the booby trap has been sprung, just waiting for you to hit the final one.
I’m not about promoting a fear narrative. These are the facts. I’m all about fixing problems and making things work, and that starts with a clear assessment of what’s really going on.
Here’s what we’re doing at our household:
We’re not inviting over relatives who are particularly at risk due to age or significant health conditions — they should not be leaving their safe havens. And friends and family members who think the pandemic is a conspiracy or otherwise not to be taken seriously enough to change their activities? They’re not getting invites, either (and potentially getting hard dis-invites).
We are extending well wishes to folks who are cautious, but with brief interactions: 10 feet of distance, wearing masks, outdoors, 5 minutes. These aren’t happening inside: some meets are at the workplace, some at a nice breezy outdoor location, some no closer than the driveway.
We thought about having folks over who were as cautious as us, masked the whole time, walking right thru the front door to an outdoor patio area, keeping distance and hanging out for a time in the breeze. But we’re not close to anyone who fits that description (!) and given that we have folks in our household who would tank if they caught COVID, bringing over someone not-serious who may well pull their mask down and lean in or cough…pass.
Your mileage may vary. You might choose to accept higher levels of risk. Just please don’t be mindless and throw caution to the winds. If you’re feeling OH MY FRICKIN’ GOD ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! at the thought of rearranging your holiday plans, you are letting the dinosaur brain (whipped into a frenzy by echo chambers and too much social media opinions) run wild, and you risk dropping the shields, powering down the weapons, and turning off the warp engines right as you enter the Romulan Neutral Zone.
You value what you value, but don’t screamandleap.
Pause Then Act.
P.S. If you think this post would be helpful to a friend, please link to it.