Okay, people, it’s time for some real talk. But before I start: I get it. I’m with you — we’re all pretty sick of being in our houses. I’m sick of staying away from friends and family, and if I had one year left to live, I’d spend it in 2020 because it has felt like an eternity.
But the fact remains, regardless of how cooped up we are feeling, and how badly we want our lives to go back to normal, we are still in the throes of a worldwide pandemic. And here in the United States, we are not exactly doing a bang up job keeping COVID-19 under control. Not at all.
And if you want a good example of how things can go sideways real fast in 2020 when you don’t follow COVID-19 safety regulations, let’s take a look at what happened at a wedding in Maine.
According to NBC news, on August 7th, about 65 people attended an indoor wedding at Tri Town Baptist Church in East Millinocket, about 63 miles north of Bangor. Then they went to a reception that was held at the Big Moose Inn Cabins and Campground in Millinocket. Now keep in mind that this event was in violation of Governor Janet Mills’ executive order: 50 people indoors, 100 people outdoors, and fewer if the space cannot accommodate five people per 1,000 feet.
By the end of August, 53 cases of COVID-19 were linked to this event. Then, one week later, 134 cases were linked directly to the wedding. By early September, 147 people had contracted the virus, who had either attended the wedding or been infected as a result of someone who did. By mid-September, 176 people had contracted the virus, and seven people who didn’t attend the wedding, but got the virus secondhand, had died.
Among those who did attend the event was an employee of the York County Jail, where 72 cases have been linked to the gathering. Yes, one dude went to a wedding that was obviously not observing COVID-19 restrictions. Then he went to work, same as he always did, and 72 people ended up contracting the virus.
Listen, I don’t want to turn this post into a lecture, but I’m not sure how else to get this across. Right now, we all need to take a deep breath, and realize that this virus does not care if you have a wedding to go to. It does not give you a pass because you’ve been cooped up and you are so sick of being inside, so you’re going to just break COVID safety rules and attend a large gathering. And it certainly doesn’t care if you falsely believe that all of this COVID stuff is being blown out of proportion, and feel that it is a hoax.
None of this matters to the virus, and if you don’t believe me, look at what happened in Maine. To put this into even more startling perspective, Maine is one of two states with the lowest COVID 19 risk levels. (The other is Vermont.) So even with the risk levels being lower than most states, one group of people decided to skirt the rules, and within a month and a half of the event, 172 people contracted the virus and seven people died.
Now, I don’t want to state the obvious, but this event is most likely still spreading the virus as we speak, and the chance for more fatalities is still very probable.
I know this is hard. All of it is hard. I am with you. I’d love for the world to go back to normal. I’d love to be back in my office, and have my children back at school, and for the world to spin the way it used to. But the reality is, right now, in this moment, we need to keep fighting the fight. We need to keep vigilant, and we need to accept that masks, hand washing, social distancing, and large gathering restrictions are not placed on us as a control measure. They are not put in place as some sort of a conspiracy.
These regulations are in place so that situations like what happened at this wedding in Maine don’t happen. It’s as simple as that. It’s moments like this that I can’t help but look at the US marking the grim milestone of passing 200,000 COVID 19 related deaths, and not pause and realize how many of them could have been avoided by keeping ourselves in check.
So my friends, look out for your community. Care about your health and the health of your friends, family, and neighbors. Follow the rules. Don’t throw parties. Put the wedding off until next year. (Because, in addition to all the other harmful ramifications, can you imagine your gathering becoming a headline-grabbing, super-spreading event?!) Celebrate your birthday with a handful of friends on Zoom. Use the tools around you, and play it smart.
We can do this. We can beat this virus. We can save lives.