This is the last shaking of the morning until Monday. Please have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Today we put aside the usual political rigmarole and focus on all that went well in what has been a difficult and painful year for so many Americans.
Thank you, in the midst of it all
This has been a terrible year for many Americans. Start with the pandemic; move to a sudden shutdown of the economy forced by quarantines and lockdowns; unleash widespread indignation against George Floyd, followed by violence, riots and looting in many towns; forest fires in the West; several hurricanes in the Gulf; and conclude with a deep and persistent division over the presidential election. Beyond our coasts, the pandemic has taken its toll, China has cracked down on Hong Kong and Beirut has exploded. We have lost beloved characters like Alex Trebek, Sean Connery, Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and many other famous and accomplished people.
Oh, and the murderous hornets! This nest in Washington state numbered nearly 200 queens and had to be removed by a team that looked like the containment teams at the Hawkins National Laboratory in Stranger things. Come to think of it, we didn’t even get to watch a new season of Strange things this year.
Thanksgiving this year just won’t be the same. Many Americans decide to keep their distance from their aging parents This Macy’s Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving parade is drastically changed – Social distancing! No crowds! Refurbished in TV show! – and many traditional Thanksgiving high school football games are canceled. With so many traditional aspects of the holiday changed or canceled, it’s easy to wonder what we should be thankful for, when everything seems to be going wrong.
We can be grateful to everyone we know who is still here and standing. The pandemic’s toll has been dire, the worst calamity to hit the United States in many years, but it could have been worse. We have changed our behavior like never before and figured out how to temporarily adapt. Yeah, we’ve had some messy fights over masks and when businesses could be opened and everything in between. But most Americans aren’t the idiots who walk up to strangers and expire on them to prove a point, and most Americans are not the finger-wagging Karen people who happily confront strangers with perceived shortcomings in behavior, or the nut that hit a guy on a plane because he didn’t want to wear a mask. Don’t let the quirks and outliers featured in the news and social media shape your perception of who we are as a country. Look around you. . . at a distance of at least six feet. Most people are doing their best.
Yes, Governor Gavin Newsom and many other prominent lawmakers are ridiculous and infuriating hypocrites. But most Americans have taken simple steps to avoid catching the virus and so far it has worked for most of them. A few states currently have extremely high positive test rates – almost 59% in Wyoming! – but in 45 states, at least three quarters of tests come back negative. If you haven’t caught it in the past nine months, the precautionary measures you’re taking are probably working.
If you catch COVID-19 now, you have better chances and much better options than in March:
An analysis prepared for STAT by the independent nonprofit FAIR Health found that the death rate of some hospitalized Covid-19 patients in the United States fell from 11.4% in March to less than 5% in June, a threshold at which the rate has remained below since. In September, the most recent month available, the death rate was 3.7%, according to data from FAIR Health, which is based on hospital coding information for about 100 million people with private insurance, including including Medicare Advantage plans.
Patients are also leaving hospital faster, the data shows. The average length of stay fell from 10.5 days in March to 4.6 days in September.
The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a second antibody treatment for those who become ill with COVID-19, one of the experimental drugs President Trump received while battling the coronavirus.
The Moderna vaccine works and appears to have minimal side effects, the The Pfizer vaccine works and does not need to be stored in extremely cold temperatures, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine works, is easier to mass-produce and is less expensive. Johnson & Johnson could do four. (If the tests continue to show good results and the FDA approves, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be a rare case of product of Chris and Woody Johnson that doesn’t disappoint the fans.)
Chief Scientific Advisor of Operation Warp Speed Dr Moncef Slaoui told CNN that he expects the first Americans to be vaccinated within a day or two of emergency clearance from the FDA, which would be around December 12. It’s two weeks from Saturday!
In March, we didn’t know if a vaccine was possible. Go back and check. Truly intelligent epidemiologists, quoted by reputable media, thought it might be impossible, or that he would take well over a year.
Whether someone wants to admit it or not, the vaccine race has brought about yet another triumph for the United States and its Western allies. Vladimir Putin has still not taken any Russian vaccine, despite confident claims from the Russian government that they are safe. China says its vaccine is working, but other countries are not so sure they can trust Beijing’s claims. You see, some people are learning the lessons of 2020!
Sometimes over the next few months you and your loved ones will feel comfortable going to a movie theater or a crowded restaurant, a concert, a live theater performance, or a sports game. You will be comfortable in a crowd – or at least as comfortable as before the pandemic. Airlines, hotels, tourism, maybe even cruise lines will come back – maybe roaring.
A side effect of having so many of our usual ways of having fun overruled, restricted, or otherwise limited: for some Americans, their personal savings have increased considerably. Credit card balances are falling, debts are paid, and credit scores go up.
If your 401 (k) or other investments were hammered earlier this year, there’s a good chance they’ve recovered. The Dow Jones Industrial Average made up for lost time a few days ago and cracked 30,000 yesterday. You may be able to retire one day!
When we come together this year, many of us will still have plenty – although we are going to have more turkey cookers for the first time than usual. Earlier this year, some supermarkets appeared to be running out of meat. Now we have oversupply in some areas and the prices have gone down.
As of this writing, it looks like the three NFL games scheduled for Thanksgiving will go ahead; earlier in the week, between a epidemic among Baltimore Ravens players and the the sudden hospitalization of Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul, it was not 100% sure. This year – knocking on the woods – we’ve had some truncated and unusual but over seasons for the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and, so far, the National Football League. A few games have been postponed here and there. Players contracted COVID-19 and – again, knocking wood – saw no long-term ill effects. As late as August, the over seasons didn’t seem like a safe bet.
Finally. . . most of us will have enough toilet paper. Last weekend I went for some paper towels and grabbed the massive bad packet of rolls, so now Geraghty House is stocked with toilet paper until about 2022. Just think, late March and early April would have made me a billionaire!
ADDENDUM: I could harass you to check Hunt four horsemen Black Friday, but instead I’ll probably do my annual roundup of National review– books and gifts related to Cyber Monday.