The pandemic has upgraded to endemic. According to Public Health, it’s everywhere and, that in your travels outside the house, you should assume you’re coming into contact with an infected person or five. We’ve hit 434 confirmed new cases this week alone. In August, 98 people from our community wound up in the hospital with COVID-19 and 22 of them died. In between, there were those who fell ill, “recovered” and struggle with lasting symptoms. And with our county hovering at about 52 percent vaccination, mixing households at a big ’ol backyard barbecue jacks up your risk, unlike, say, a hike or bike ride, or a picnic with your own little domestic bubble.
Here are five reasons to enjoy Labor Day within your household.
1. Your brother-in-law’s need to amp up his grill with lighter fluid is annoying most years — nobody wants a burger that tastes like a gas can — our overtaxed hospitals won’t be able to accommodate him if he ignites his hair plugs and has to visit the emergency room. It could be just you, him and his sizzling follicles in the ER waiting room forever.
2. There will definitely be a party-size bag of potato chips, possibly decanted into a big, plastic bowl. You will, like a reasonable person in the midst of a spiking outbreak of a potentially deadly disease, resolve not to touch it or the bowl of dip in which those sticky children are definitely double dipping. Sure. Please take a moment to review your record of resisting potato chips. Yeah, you’re not better than me, pal.
3. Macaroni salad and potato salad cannot be out all day, as they inevitably will be. I don’t care if you read that article that said you can keep commercial mayo in the pantry. In the hot sun, that pale scoop on the side of your paper plate is like Russian dressing roulette. Not COVID related, just a hard picnic truth.
4. Staying outside might not be enough to keep you safe. The Delta variant has proven its ability to spread among people who cluster together at outdoor gatherings, talking and eating and drinking unmasked. And even if you plan to wear a mask, will everyone else? Like your close-talker neighbor who you're, like, 75 percent — OK, 60 percent sure is vaccinated? And while being vaccinated is wonderful (thank you!), breakthrough cases happen and you want absolutely none of that smoke.
5. Introversion is very hot right now. As is full lung function, which is not guaranteed even after you recover from a bout of COVID. Also trending right now, according to a survey of very good boys and girls, is grilling up hot dogs at home and tossing the extra two sausages to your pup(s). That's why there are eight buns and 10 hot dogs in the packages. Dogs would not lie about this.
BONUS: An excellent way to honor Labor Day — established to celebrate working people — would be to do everything you can to avoid the spread of the virus, which endangers all of us, but hits those in the service sector particularly hard and has placed enormous physical, emotional and mental burdens on healthcare workers. You can do that by simply staying home and eating your own bag of chips — lick your fingers all you want! — or making a plan to get vaccinated if you aren’t already. (See a list of places to get vaccinated for free below.)
Happy Labor Day, Humboldt. And cheers to those who’ll spend it working. Stay safe out there.
Get vaccinated at the following locations:
McKinleyville – Friday, Sept. 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Six Rivers Brewery (1300 Central Ave.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
Samoa – Friday, Sept. 3, from 3:30 to 6 p.m.
Humboldt Bay Social Club (900 New Navy Base Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
Eureka – Saturday, Sept. 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
Arcata – Thursday, Sept. 9, from noon to 2 p.m.
Arcata Transit Center (925 E St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
Trinidad – Thursday, Sept. 9, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Trinidad Town Hall (409 Trinity St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson