“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only” -Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
It’s incredible how applicable those immortal words are to our world today. In some ways, we really are in the best of times: goods and services delivered right to your doorstep, the cumulative knowledge of the entire history of the world accessible from our smartphones, and innumerable ways to connect with our friends and families around the world regardless of distance.
And yet, as we round out 2020, it doesn’t need to be said that these past 12 months have been some of the most challenging, stressful, and painful in recent memory. Hundreds of thousands of deaths directly attributable to the pandemic, the subsequent economic fallout and devastation wrought on small, family-owned businesses, and the loss of simple yet important aspects of our shared humanity like travel, in-person conversation, and hugs.
Why rehash all of this? Well, because, at least for Californians, yet another lockdown is upon us. This time, it will last for a minimum of 3 weeks, all but assuring that we will or at least should be isolated from one another during Christmas and New Years. That being said, thinking through this from various perspectives might make it all a little bit more tolerable.
California’s latest lockdown comes as hospital occupancy is surging. Most concerningly, the occupancy in our ICUs (reserved for patients most in danger of dying) exceeded 85% late last week and continues to increase. To put it bluntly, if you get severely ill from COVID-19, heart disease, trauma, or a stroke, there may not be an ICU bed out there for you if occupancy continues to increase. Additionally, as the business operations managers out there can attest, hospital efficiency for all but the largest hospitals will significantly decline when occupancy exceeds 85%, meaning that even if you can get an ICU bed, you won’t necessarily get the fastest care that you could be getting.
So what does the lockdown do? Well, it further wreaks havoc on our jobs, our personal finances, our small businesses, and our economy. It really puts a damper on our holidays, a time when we should be gathering together with friends and family, celebrating our love for one another, and giving thanks for those things in our lives that are going well and for those things in our lives that we have the power to change for the better.
Speaking of that last part, the lockdown is also something that we can do to change our community for the better.
It’s hard to get COVID-19 if you’re isolated in lockdown. It’s also hard to get into a major car accident or suffer any other major trauma if we’re all locking down at home catching up on The Mandalorian or The Queen’s Gambit or whatever. That takes pressure of our hospitals and our health workers and means that if a friend or loved one does, God forbid, suffer a stroke or heart attack, they’ll be able to get the care they need. Lastly, the majority of COVID-19-infected individuals are no longer infectious after 10-14 days. If every single one of us stays in lockdown for 21 days, theoretically, when we come out on the other end at the beginning of 2021, COVID-19 will no longer exist in the state of California (assuming of course that no out-of-state traveler re-introduces it). And at that point, we could go back to what we love doing and what we do best: contributing to our vibrant economy, reconnecting with our friends and loved ones, and creating better lives for ourselves and our community.
That really would be the best of times.