Welcome to 2021! Everything’s going to be fine now, right?
Everyone’s getting vaccinated, so the mean old COVID-19 bug will be out of our lives. We’ll be dining out by candlelight and taking in a movie or play on date night. The family will be visiting — and hugging — Nana and Grandpa. The kids will be back in school instead of playing games and chatting while pretending to do their computerized homework. Everybody’s getting back to work. Joe is sending huge checks to every house in America. Sigh. What a relief!
Well…[looks around]…actually doesn’t look that way quite yet, does it?
Let’s do a little thought experiment to put all this in perspective. Let’s say a 747 crashed today, all souls lost, 500 dead. We are horrified. We demand an investigation. Who’s to blame for this tragedy? We must do something!
In fact, let’s say six 747s packed with passengers went down. And six more tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day after that. The COVID-19 death rate in the U.S. runs around 3,100 every day and a 747 carries around 500 people. So, we’re losing the equivalent of six fully loaded 747s every day. At that rate, the entire population of Vashon would be wiped out in just three or four days.
Now, imagine you know you can save some of the people on the 747s by a few simple, inexpensive steps: wearing a mask, keeping your distance, and getting a shot? And waiting another year for that road trip to visit the grandparents? Would you take those easy steps? Would your neighbor? Your workmates? Your family? Many will and some will not. And some essential workers simply can’t do it, or at least not all of it.
Here are a few easy things you can do right now to keep those 747s from falling out of the sky.
Do the Obvious: We all know the rules but we’re tired of them. So what? This is Vashon! Keep up our good work. Just grit your teeth and do the obvious right thing until the all-clear is sounded. Mask. Distance. Hands.
Get Your Shot: If you can’t get vaccinated here on Vashon, chase the mainland options. “I can’t tell you how many people think nothing of going to Costco, but insist they get health care here. It’s crazy,” were the words of one island health care provider last week.
Be Patient: If you can’t get vaccinated yet, just accept reality. There’s not yet enough vaccine, especially here on Vashon. Everyone who wants a vaccine will eventually get it.
Keep Doing the Obvious: After your shot, know that it takes six weeks from your first one to get full protection. Even then, some studies suggest you could still be a spreader. You’ll need to keep doing the obvious — especially now that at least one of the more contagious variants has arrived here.
Get Tested: Get tested if you have symptoms or may have been exposed. Give a cheer when you get a negative result. But know this: That’s not a get out of jail free card. It’s a snapshot in time and you are only one sneeze away from getting COVID-19 and spreading it to a loved one.
Be Nice: Yes, we all get it, that you are a really special person. After all, you live on Vashon. But so do thousands of other folks. There’s no call to shout at pharmacy clerks or pour a bucket of nastiness out on Facebook. Everybody’s working hard. Dozens of VashonBePrepared volunteers are pitching in, along with Vashon Pharmacy and clinic staff. You’ll get your turn.
Lead the Way: When you do the right and obvious thing (see above!), share it with your friends and family. Shout it out on Facebook or Twitter. Lead by example. Show the way.
I’m proud of Vashon. We’re the safest place in King County right now. By and large, islanders are already doing the obvious things and just need to keep up the good work. Our crack contact tracing team of Medical Reserve Corps volunteers are containing the disease when it breaks out. Our MRC and CERT volunteers stood up a testing operation in the early days of the pandemic and have now leveraged that skill to help Vashon Pharmacy to set up an efficient drive-through vaccination site. Island social service agencies, augmented with support from the VashonBePrepared Vashon COVID Relief Fund, have helped people with food and rent relief.
So, welcome to 2021! We’ve done pretty well so far because we know magical thinking isn’t enough, even on the enchanted isle of Vashon. It’s going to take all of us working together as one to keep Vashon safe. With the vaccines coming online, we have the opportunity to end this ordeal and really make it a year of hope. We’re on a good path. Let’s keep walking towards the magic.
Rick Wallace is the volunteer Manager of the Vashon Emergency Operations Center, Vice President of VashonBePrepared, and Vice President of Voice of Vashon.