Though many researchers and scientists believe our Christmas gift from Wuhan, China arrived stateside late last year, it didn't start making us feel feverish with delight or hacking up a lung or any of the asymptomatic versions of the novel coronavirus until later in 2020. And now, a holiday season later, COVID-19 is everywhere, more omnipresent than holiday lights, Santa Claus imagery, or Christmas music in hot spots dotting a majority of our 50 states, impacting the old and the young, majority and minority communities, and even mutating across the pond into a potentially more virulent and contagious strain.
Giving President Donald Trump and his administration credit where due, Operation Warp Speed has brought us two different COVID-19 vaccines, each with an efficacy rate above 90 percent, in under 9-months. This past week I witnessed among the first of those vaccine injections, specifically to CNN Medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, along with Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, President and Dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. That morning and in a later nighttime CNN Global Town Hall, the pair joined our U.S. Surgeon General, Vice-Admiral Jerome Adams, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other public health leaders and luminaries seeking to build acceptance and support for the coming millions of two-stage doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
And while we are all tiring of universal mask-wearing, endless hand washing, and the distance of family and friend gatherings sans hugs and handshakes ... we can now actually see the light at the end of this tunnel. Some weak and poorer leaders have championed versus squashing conspiracy theories and even labeled this pathogen as a hoax. Instead of fireside chats encouraging shared sacrifice, neighbor helping neighbor and moving us collectively through this dark valley together, we have scorched earth Twitter bombs, press conferences filled with hate and invective, and all but encouragement of those most-base elements among us to blow up RVs or even to harm our fellow Americans, if only to get our way, win the day, and bend both the facts and reality to our will.
Thankfully, the America I know will survive this as well as this virus. And whether or not we reach herd immunity, those caring, mindful and deliberate among us will continue to try and assist even those undeserving of that Judeo-Christian desire to treat others as we would prefer to be treated. At least in my small corner of the world, there has been much good otherwise in this year as well. My first-born daughter and her husband, after 18 months of pain and suffering two miscarriages, brought identical twin boys into this world on Sept. 18, the same day that Ruth Bader Ginsburg made her exit, our Mighty Mites arrived on the scene (more about this pair in a future column). And while the economic devastation caused by the shutdowns and extended business restrictions have crippled careers, savings, lifetime trajectories, and planning, my modest firm is having its best year in nearing one dozen in business. For each season and sport there is a time, and at least for now communications and crisis appear to be particularly in season.
Since Thanksgiving, Georgia has set multiple and successive records for positive test cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The vaccines will begin making inroads soon, but they are not a panacea, nor silver bullet, particularly if large percentages of the population decline vaccination. My mother lost her then 3-year-old brother to polio, before there was a polio vaccine. She still has a slight limp, becoming more severe with age, and a weaker leg and hip, from her own polio, acquired prior to near-universal access to the polio vaccine, which has all but eradicated that disease.
And while never a huge fan of the monster family gorge-fest holiday reunions, this version of holiday celebration has allowed for, and even encouraged, smaller, more intimate gatherings, gift exchanges, and communication ... without the additional complications of back-timing a multi-course meal for 30. A cherished evening earlier this week was essentially just some quick-service food, Netflix and chill ... and holding on my shoulder and across my lap, those same Mighty Mites as they moved from wide-awake to falling fast asleep. See ... there really are silver linings. And also certainly on the plus side, this Year of the Suck will end in just days, and at noon on Jan. 20, 2021, our entire nation gets to turn a new page. Happy reading, and see y'all in the New Year.