The COVID-19 curve is dipping in Washington and the state is s l o w l y rolling out vaccinations. Hope is on the horizon, and I know you want to squirt piss and gasoline all over 2020 and light it on fire. I do too. But the sad fact is that you'll extend the hell of 2020 even further into 2021 if you meet up with others so you can all go feral while watching the virtual Space Needle light show.
The problem with New Year's Eve is it's drenched in Big Denouement Energy—an end, a sigh of relief, an achievement. Unfortunately, we can't handle anything too climactic tomorrow night. The situation is "precarious," Washington State Department of Health Epidemiologist Scott Lindquist said in a press conference on Wednesday, a point he's made before.
So far, Washington has received 356,650 doses of vaccine and administered 59,491 vaccines, according to the Washington State Department of Health. The department says it is planning to distribute around 102,000 more doses in the next week.
The first batch of vaccinations is going to healthcare workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities. The state will have more information on who will be next to receive the vaccine early next week, but officials said those will likely go to other workers in healthcare facilities to protect the entire system.
While Washington's case and hospitalization numbers are tenuously doing well, the U.S. is experiencing its deadliest period with the coronavirus since the onset of COVID-19 this spring. Hospitalizations are rising across the country. Los Angeles County is on pace to become what New York City was in April. Fireworks shows are canceled, Times Square is closed off, and New Year's as you know it isn't going to happen. Don't bend the rules for yourself.
Scolding and shaming helped keep a post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge at bay in many states. We don't know yet whether that worked for Christmas. We might as well give it a shot for New Year's, which is trickier and maybe even more dangerous than the other holidays. Who's going to remember to put their mask back on in between nibbling snacks and sipping champers?
"Just because the calendar is turning over doesn't mean the circumstances are," said Kira Mauseth, a member of WADOH's behavioral health strike team.
Mauseth also laid out some guidelines for making New Year's resolutions that won't disappoint people in what is bound to be another disappointing year.
To make a good, "resilient" resolution, Mauseth stressed that people should focus on purpose, connection, flexibility, and adaptability. Outline what's important to you, keep your goals short and attainable, and make sure you're prioritizing "sharing time creatively and safely" with the people you care about or with "something bigger" than yourself.
"Hope plays a very important role in the experience of the next couple of months," Mauseth said.
And there is room for hope and celebration, with a new presidential administration less than a month away and vaccinations rolling out. But temper that joy with realism: a fresh, likely more contagious COVID-19 variation is already getting cozy in America. Colorado and California just reported evidence of the variant appearing in those states. While health officials are confident this new strain won't nullify vaccine effectiveness, it could create a surge in the spring.
So, it's not the time to reward yourself for enduring the pain from this year. We've got to keep it up so we can go all Gatsby on New Year's Eve next year (minus the vehicular manslaughter, disillusionment of the American dream, and gun violence). Whatever boring thing you do for New Year's Eve, keep your lips to yourselves—or to the people you've been smooching all pandemic.