The writing is on the wall.
Get ready for a Christmas without little kids sitting on Santa’s lap, a Halloween without trick or treating, and a New Year’s Eve without parties.
If you think such scenarios aren’t real possibilities then may I interest you in purchasing a champion unicorn to run in the Kentucky Derby complete with a leprechaun as your jockey?
We are in a twilight zone world today where Google plans to keep most of its 200,000 employees working from home through at least July 2021 and Manteca Unified has scheduled a scrimmage on the day of New Year’s Eve to help launch football that will be played on what could be foggy nights — assuming it doesn’t rain — in January and February before wrapping up the season with the winds of March.
This may be the first Halloween on record where you can scare the hell out of people by not wearing a mask.
It is clear we will not have a reasonable handle on the COVID-19 situation in the foreseeable future. By reasonable I mean there won’t be a booming industry selling fashion masks as an accessory on the same level of a tie or necklace or toxic hand sanitizers from Third World countries sold online to a public growing more comfortable with Internet claims as they abandon the advice of trusted neighborhood pharmacists in order to save a buck or two.
The approach of September means that we as a society start migrating inside and to traditionally packed gatherings. If you think health experts go berserk seeing beaches teeming with people outside where COVID-19 is somewhat less of a problem, wait until the holiday season arrives.
Do you think Gov. Gavin Newsom is going to not consider banning trick or treating? What could possibly go wrong with hundreds of thousands of kids going door-to-door to millions of households trick or treating? Unless people distributing candy are armed with six-foot tongs, I seriously doubt Dr. Anthony Fauci would approve.
Halloween carnivals — and haunted houses — would be a nightmare. Bobbing for apples would have to be history as would efforts to scare people for fun. If droplets matter, can you imagine the social distancing that you would need if kids and others start screaming after being scared in some darken haunted house?
Thanksgiving is arguably even a bigger challenge. If family gatherings over Labor Day and on the Fourth of July were indeed major culprits in COVID-19 cases surging, imagine what a big all-day event like a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be. Most summer events take place outdoors and not in a closed house to keep the cold at bay while the sports fans gather around the TV to watch the baseball World Series.
Christmas will really be a challenge given it brings together people from the most vulnerable age group that typically play Santa with those from the age group considered to be effective transmitters of all sorts of viruses that can weaken immune systems.
Holiday shopping — at least in person — will indeed have to start after Labor Day to avoid lines wrapping around buildings thanks to social distancing.
It might be considered downright criminal for stores to conduct Black Friday sales if it encourages the typical lines forming six hours before stores open.
Let’s be serious. If the 1,000 or so people who normally line up on Black Friday morning at a store like a Walmart to open and social distancing rules could indeed be enforced, the line at the Manteca location would reach all the way to downtown.
And once the doors open does anyone seriously think social distancing will be observed as the mad scramble starts to grab deeply discounted items. If you think the acts of violence taking place now in stores by people who react rather negatively to requests to comply with face mask mandates are frightening, can you imagine someone trying to enforce social distancing in such chaos?
Assuming we can count our blessing by surviving Thanksgiving without our family gatherings turning into the source of major COVID-19 outbreaks and get through Christmas without putting hundreds of Santa Clauses into ICU beds, then we have to survive New Year’s Eve.
Imagine, if you will, trying to convince people of any age not to party on New Year’s Eve. You’d have more success at convincing people to give you the keys and pink slips to their cars. Somehow I don’t think Dr. Fauci warning people not to party on New Year’s Eve will get any traction.
I admit I’m kind of looking forward to the sometimes self-righteous sounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo explaining away how hordes that still will likely end up in Times Square didn’t spread COVID-19 while slamming smaller group of protestors of stay at home orders as the coronavirus equivalents of Typhoid Mary.
On the flip side, it will be a nice change of pace to watch the Masters Golf Tournament live from Augusta instead of some meaningless Rose Bowl college football game on New Years’ Day.
One would hope things don’t get that drastic but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. Google’s decision to keep most employees away from the workplace for another 12 months is based in reality.
Even if an effective vaccine was developed and production ramped up to the point it could be used on a massive scale within two months, it will take time to work its way through the population. It is a given deaths will still take place because even with a flu vaccine we have upwards of 60,000 people dying annually from that virus.
Obviously a lockdown that suffocates the economy to the point it bankrupts and destroys businesses and families left and right isn’t the answer. Nor is everyone running around doing as they please as if a serious health crisis doesn’t exist.
Simple steps — face masks, social distancing, as well as hand sanitizing and such —are not cure all solutions but they do help slow the spread.
The fact so-called “herd immunity” plays a role in bringing virus and diseases into some reasonable level of check among wildlife and humans also can’t be denied.
We will never have the power to stop COVID-19 from killing, making people extremely ill, and possibly crippling them for life.
The best is a middle of the road approach.
Keeping that in mind we are only 138 days into the pandemic emergency declared by the State of California. The Flu Pandemic 1918 actually lasted close to two years.
There is no reason not to expect it won’t be with us in some form requiring protocols and mask for at least another year.
The folks that run Google may not be absolute geniuses but they are very savvy at reading trends which explains they have a market value in excess of $1 trillion.
If Google, a firm that prefers in-person group collaboration that is the foundation to their success, has decided COVID-19 will be with us for at least another 12 months to such a degree that it is a disruptive force on the world on a scale of what Google and tech entities such as Amazon and Facebook have been, then we need to come to grips with the inevitable.
Nothing will be normal for at least the rest of this year and well into 2021.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com