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‘Tis the season

Despite dire and urgent warnings from health authorities and doctors, millions of Americans are expected to have traveled and gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend.

This raises the possibility of a “surge superimposed on a surge”, in the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, and of a wave of deaths as Christmas arrives.

Nearly 12.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and more than 258,000 have died, according to the John Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. Despite these harrowing statistics, several recent surveys show a meaningful minority of Americans have not changed Thanksgiving plans and intend to go ahead with travel and gatherings.

Thanksgiving may not be popular among Filipinos but with the Christmas holidays fast approaching, we should be very concerned with what happens in the USA during this weekend. As victims of one of the longest and strictest lockdowns during this pandemic, many Filipinos could be vulnerable to Covid or quarantine fatigue and Christmas, traditionally our biggest holiday, could tempt many to set aside the health precautions and protocols that we have been observing for almost nine months already.

As seen from our higher rates of mask-wearing and physical distancing compliance, Filipinos have proven themselves vastly different from Americans when it comes to compliance with health protocols against Covid. However the allure of the approaching Christmas holidays, coupled with the isolation and frustration that we have been subjected to for most of 2020 could result in some of us succumbing to the temptation to gather with family and friends.

Government has already issued advisories against Christmas parties and gatherings for 2020. Hopefully this time, not even mañanitas of the powerful and connected are allowed. The temptation to maintain Christmas traditions and family reunions will always be there as it is already hardwired into our culture but let us all try our best to convince ourselves and our loved ones that this year will have to be the exception.

The best Christmas gift we can give each other during the upcoming holidays is to resist the urge to gather for just a little bit longer. Our government’s lackluster response to the Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t give us the luxury of knowing up to exactly when, but this ultimate act of giving during this holiday season is all we can do for ourselves and our communities.*

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