COVID numbers are starting to increase again in some states, indicating that we may see another surge this winter. Gatherings like Thanksgiving and Christmas will almost certainly increase the spread. New variants that appear more contagious are out there. That said, don’t panic, prepare. 

We should not be heading to any widespread shutdowns. Instead, we should be planning to protect our most vulnerable, taking reasonable precautions like wearing masks and continuing social distancing. Get vaccinated and, if you’re eligible, get a booster. 

We need to start living with the reality of COVID and follow the facts and the science. Vaccinations limit the severity of the disease, but don’t prevent it entirely. Still, people who are unvaccinated are more than 10 times as likely to die as unvaccinated people, 10 times as likely to be hospitalized, and five times as likely to be infected by the disease. A Texas study indicates that 85% of deaths and cases are among unvaccinated people. Vaccinations should be a no brainer. 

The threat of COVID is largely among older people, especially those unvaccinated. Unvaccinated people over 65 are about 15 times more likely to die than vaccinated people of the same age cohort. For younger people, the risk of death is tiny. Children under the age of 18 are more at risk from pneumonia than COVID. 

As winter looms and people start spending more time indoors, we should begin taking precautions. That does not mean shutting down schools and businesses. That means figuring out how to protect our most vulnerable, particularly people over 50 years old. If they are unwilling to get vaccinated, they should be warned to stay out of the public as much as possible, avoiding everything from family gatherings to church. Vaccinated people should be wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing. Handshakes and hugs, unfortunately, should be rare. 

The next COVID spike is coming. Let’s not panic. Instead, let’s start preparing now. Public health agencies should begin public relations campaigns that encourage responsibility. Downplay dire warnings and empower people and businesses to protect themselves. Keep schools open since pneumonia is a greater threat to kids than COVID. As more people get vaccinated or acquire natural immunity, our spikes will likely be smaller than in the past. Let’s get through this thing with determination instead of letting it control all aspect of our lives. 

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