Suffield Observations

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Andy Sauer

We will not be seeing my in-laws this holiday season.

My wife is a dentist, and I work with her. Two of our kids are in college, one of which is in Boston. My youngest is in middle school. My parents will be visiting from Florida.

I would say if there is a coronavirus strain kicking around, there’s a good chance one of us will be bringing it to the table.

We are vaccinated. My in-laws are not, and they have no plans to be. So, my wife has made the uncomfortable decision to not see her parents for the holidays.

If my in-laws, whose current state of health is at best precarious, were to contract the coronavirus, they would almost certainly die, as have more than 700,000 Americans, including my father.

I’m not pushing mandatory vaccination. If you don’t want to get a shot, then don’t. Some of my best friends haven’t. It’s a bet they want to make. One person I know is in his late 40s and in good health. Despite the nature of a job that requires he visit dozens of dental offices every week and despite his lax attention to coronavirus precautions, he chooses to roll the dice. So far, he’s been lucky.

My in-laws live a semi-secluded life, and the majority of their interactions are with people who live mostly semi-secluded lives. They are cavalier about mask-wearing and, while they’d never admit it, have benefited from the responsibility of strangers, which could change soon.

When the coronavirus shutdown began in March 2020, it was never about “beating” COVID-19; it was about containing the virus to keep the hospitals from getting overloaded. Today, as more people get vaccinated and present, if anything, treatable symptoms of the coronavirus, and as hospitals find new ways to combat the virus, things are getting back to normal. The hospitals aren’t overwhelmed and are ready to handle the next wave.

Fueled by the holidays and increased indoor gatherings, there will be another wave. Most positive cases will recover at home; some will be treated at hospitals. The serious cases will be put on ventilators, and the worst cases will die. If the future here bears any resemblance to what’s happened elsewhere (1) – as has been the case without fail for the duration of the epidemic – the vast majority of those killed by the coronavirus will be unvaccinated.

Still, with the news, the odds and my wife overwhelmingly against them, my in-laws have decided to bet on themselves and visit their other daughters just outside Boston. I’m sure every precaution will be made to reduce the chances of exposing my in-laws to the coronavirus, but the odds can never be as low as they would be if they were vaccinated. And, the stakes – her parents’ lives – are just too high for my wife. That’s just a bet she wants no part of.

(1)- Bennhold, Katrin “Germany’s Fourth Covid Wave: ‘A Pandemic of the Unvaccinated’,” The New York Times, Nov. 11, 2021

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