COVID-weary and battle-worn from two years of a Chinese virus that just won’t go away, Americans are finding new ways to celebrate Christmas amid the latest wave of infection. Even though Omicron is not a virulent form of COVID-19 it certainly is easily the most contagious of the variants. As Christmas week unfolded, and numbers began to spike, people tried to strike a balance between holiday plans and concern for the health of their friends and family.
Complicating things this week were widespread airline cancellations leaving thousands either stuck at home for the holiday or stranded. On Thursday over two thousand flights were canceled and then things got worse; close to four thousand flights were halted worldwide on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. According to a prominent Washington Newspaper, “Transportation Security Administration reported that almost 2.2 million people went through security screening at airports on Thursday — nearly as many as in 2019, and almost three times as many as last year on the same day.”
Those who managed to reach their destination earlier this month are still grappling with how to manage COVID and Christmas. For example, most D.C.-area country clubs are not penalizing parties who have decided to stay home due to the virus and many others are changing the look and feel of their Christmas day from large and festive to small and quiet. As one party planner told Liberty Nation, “I don’t want to put people in a position to get sick on Christmas Day.”
This abundance of caution may seem silly to some but to those who suffer from pre-existing conditions or are over the age of 65, getting COVID this Christmas – even a milder version – feels very real and somewhat frightening.
The spike in numbers of cases can be alarming to many and parents are particularly concerned at the rapid rise in pediatric cases. Most of these cases appear mild – akin to cold-like symptoms – in the aggregate. However pediatric specialists are having to deal with a bit of the unknown including the very young, under the age of two. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that 170,000 children and adolescents were infected last week alone.
Again, while most understand this latest COVID strain is not nearly as harmful as the original virus, the sheer numbers can sound frightening and by now, most people know someone who has died as a result of contracting the disease, making it perhaps more real to them.
Still, it is Christmas Day and with or without COVID, whether in large groups or small, people will be celebrating the birth of Christ – and that is something we can all be thankful for this year.
~ Read more from Leesa K. Donner.