The coronavirus pandemic was always going to get worse before it gets better. On Vashon, that time is now.
With more than twenty new cases reported in the span of a single week, for a total of 64, including one new hospitalization, islanders can no longer afford to let their guard down — not that they ever could before. We must continue to take all necessary precautions, socially distance ourselves from others, and make a new commitment to stay home as much as possible.
Unless you work off-island, don’t go anywhere. Stop leaving. Washington State Ferries reports that while traffic is far below past averages, people are coming and going to and from Vashon daily. In last week’s report from the Emergency Operations Center, it noted that according to WSF, 3,300 people per day make round trips across Puget Sound in order to go to work, school, medical appointments, and shopping. Are you one of those people? Do you have to be?
If your employer will allow you to work from home, do that. If you can make do with what you have or get it delivered, do that. Make every effort possible to stay put. All non-essential travel must stop immediately.
Do not attend gatherings with neighbors and friends and family. This includes the holidays. Experts predict a surge on top of the current surge, according to The New York Times, because of holiday-related travel for Thanksgiving.
Cancel your plans. Do not get on a plane. Do not cross state lines. This is the worst and there is so little joy. It is worth the temporary sacrifice.
You might get sick and have no symptoms. You or someone else you were in contact with might get sick and lose all respiratory function outside of the use of a ventilator. You should not bet on these odds. More than a quarter-million Americans have now died. It has been eight months. This is real. This is far from over, even if it mercifully has not happened in your own life. You should still care.
Stop your children from congregating in town. None of this is normal. We cannot make-believe it is and they cannot either. Young people on Vashon need our encouragement, support and thanks for the incredible work they are doing to get an education in impossible circumstances. They need access to all of the resources available that will prioritize and protect their mental health. Now more than ever. But they need adults in their lives to set an example about preserving their physical well-being, too. There are too many pathways for infection emerging on the island, in the region and the nation at large to guarantee their safety and well-being. Or yours.
Masks are effective. Being outside helps. But we are not immune to this disease in any environment or social situation.
This crisis has devastated our small businesses, kept us fumbling to unmute ourselves during long Zoom calls, forced our schools to close, made us afraid, and robbed us of the everyday community we share here. Thank health care workers. Thank essential workers. Do your part. You already know why.
Thank you for reading The Beachcomber.
— Paul Rowley, Reporter