Each Tuesday and Friday, the Vermont governor updates us about the latest statistics, travel guidelines and executive orders surrounding the pandemic.
He was one of the first (or perhaps the first) in the nation to urge us to celebrate Thanksgiving with only immediate family. For weeks we’ve seen notices reminding us to have “the COVID talk” with relatives who would be in attendance. The national news covers stories about “possibly reconsidering travel” and “how to safely be together”.
We’ve had emails from our schools—for two months already—always pleading with us to remember the travel guidelines that say everyone who comes here must have quarantined for fourteen days. At least one local school determined it was safer to just preemptively close the schools for the two weeks after Thanksgiving.
At the same time, we have been rather proud of the COVID statistics here. Even though we are a small state, we had seen “only” 58 deaths—and none since the end of June. We have a positivity rate that is the lowest in the nation—only 1.1%. Our neighbors make up most of the other eleven states that can claim 5% or lower.
But we had another death in the state this month. And, there are several cases being treated, with a few people in the ICU’s.
The state’s priorities include keeping kids in school (which, for our district, still means only one day of in-person instruction per week for 7th to 12th grade, and two days per week for K-6th). Telecommuting is encouraged, and in-person meetings discouraged.
But today, the governor has declared that as of tomorrow at 10 PM, we should only be with our immediate household.
I’ve searched hard this evening for a silver lining. Under this order, it feels like we are about to lose the few things that have made the pandemic manageable. All the positive stuff that I have written about must stop. By his order, we can no longer host doggie playdates, join friends for walks, enjoy a socially distanced meal outside, sit around campfires with the neighbors…
Truly, finding this “good thing that happened… because of a pandemic” is a difficult challenge for me today.
What I come up with—after much thought—is how much I grasp the difficult position of our elected officials. The Vermont governor knew his announcement this afternoon would disappoint many–even those who have just re-elected him just over two weeks ago, citing his leadership during COVID. At the same time, he also knows that it falls on his team to lead, even if it is not popular.
So tonight, I’m going with an appreciation for our governor’s attempt to find the delicate balance between economic destruction and public health. It is a silver lining to have good leaders here.