11.20.20

Chicken on Turkey Day

Should we do this? It’s the question on everyone’s mind right now. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we are all attempting to determine how best to celebrate the holidays in the age of a deadly pandemic. Everyone’s situation is a little different. Some of us have big families, some of us have small families. But there’s one thing we have in common: COVID-19 has impacted all of us in one way or another.

At the time I’m writing this, there have been 741 deaths from COVID-19 in South Dakota. Let that sink in – 741 deaths. That’s more than the population of some towns in this state. In South Dakota, our communities are so tightly knit together that it feels like we’re part of one big family. That’s what makes this so difficult. This virus has taken from us our moms, our dads, our grandpas and grandmas, our sons and daughters. Our hearts grieve together.

This message isn’t about Thanksgiving 2020. It’s much bigger than that. This is about how we get through Thanksgiving 2020 so we can all enjoy Thanksgivings together for years to come. The good Lord blessed us in South Dakota with common sense. Now is the time to use it.

First things first - wear your mask. If you’re going to the grocery store to get your turkey, wear your mask. If you’re going out to do Christmas shopping, wear your mask. Are there instances where wearing a mask isn’t common sense? Certainly. But here’s a good rule of thumb - if you’re out in public and cannot socially distance, wear your mask. Wearing a mask isn’t just about protecting you, it’s about protecting others around you. Leaders wear masks.

We also need to remember the importance of washing our hands and using hand sanitizer. That’s not only good advice to combat COVID-19, but also other more common ailments we face every year like the cold and flu.

What we know about COVID-19 is that it disproportionately impacts those who are older. If you contract this virus and you’re over the age of 70, the numbers show that you have a 7 percent chance of dying. If you’re over 80, your risk rises to 13.4 percent. Those numbers are getting close to the odds you’d have when playing Russian roulette with a loaded revolver.

Those numbers are one reason that gathering this Thanksgiving is difficult for families. From experience, I know that you can’t keep grandkids off grandparents. And it’s pretty tough to keep grandparents away from grandkids, too. While grandkids might not display symptoms, they can still carry the virus and that can be dangerous.

If you are worried about getting sick, stay home. If you are worried that you are sick and might infect someone else, stay home. If you have a “cold” you might actually have COVID-19. Stay home. If you’re worried about your kids getting your parents or grandparents sick, stay home. We live in the 21st century. Whether it’s FaceTime, Skype or another platform, there are methods for us to be together while apart. It’s okay to be a chicken this Turkey Day. 

Here’s the point – the government isn’t going to mandate how you should celebrate Thanksgiving. You have the power to decide what’s best for your family. Vaccines are on the way, but in the meantime we must use our common sense to fight this virus and live to see another Thanksgiving. We’ll get through this together.

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