Holidays Prove We Need to Learn to Live With the Pandemic


The annual Thanksgiving rush reached near pre-pandemic levels this year, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). (Courtesy of Twitter)

You may be wondering where we’ve been for the past two weeks; it’s that time of year again. We’re home for the holidays, just like usual! Well, kind of. 

Fordham students were part of the flock of Americans flooding home to join their families over a table of turkey. The annual Thanksgiving rush reached near pre-pandemic levels this year, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The deadline for TSA personnel to get vaccinated under the New York vaccine mandate came just in time for the influx of travelers. Americans pushed through airport security and hit traffic-filled roads all in the name of spending Thanksgiving day with their families. 

This massive travel day arrived just as COVID-19 cases have been ticking upward in the U.S. once again. More than 90,000 cases are being reported each day and hospitalizations are rising across the country. Even states with high vaccination rates like Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire are struggling to contain infection outbreaks. 

Even more recently, American worries about the global threat of the omicron variant are growing. Although the new variant was discovered just last week in South Africa, cases have already been found in Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The World Health Organization is warning about the “severe consequences” that might result from the ability of the variant to spread across the world. 

Yet, just one week ago Dr. Fauci encouraged fully vaccinated citizens to enjoy a relatively normal Thanksgiving celebration with their families unmasked. This was a notable turnaround from last year, when Fauci asked Americans to forego Thanksgiving celebrations and sacrifice their family time due to the severity of the pandemic. This was before the vaccines were approved and when mortality rates were continuously climbing.

Many Americans approached Thanksgiving 2021 with optimism. Sure, COVID-19 is still rearing its germy head, but leaders have been displaying an extra dose of competence when it comes to handling the virus. Officials were encouraging a sense of normalcy when it came to Thanksgiving feasts, as long as all participants were vaccinated. However, a seamless transition to the post-pandemic Thanksgiving is becoming more of a fantasy with each passing day. 

With all of the differing opinions and cases rising and falling every day, it can be hard to discern just what kind of Thanksgiving is right for your family. I’m sure this year’s picture varied from house to house: some families might have returned to their pre-pandemic traditions, some canceled Thanksgiving festivities altogether and others still might have shown up masked and social distancing. 

I understand it can be frightening to celebrate the holidays with family members in the midst of a global pandemic. It is a situation none of us have been confronted with before. Sometimes, it is necessary to stop and think about just how monumental a time this is: we are living through a pandemic. A new and swiftly spreading virus is taking over the globe. However, it is time we learn to live with the pandemic. 

Unfortunately, the “end” is no longer close in sight. In fact, the “end” might not exist. As new strains continue to develop and the virtually impossible task of complete global vaccination becomes clearer, it becomes necessary to accept the presence of COVID-19 in our daily lives. 

Returning to our time-honored holiday traditions is just one part of this acceptance. We cannot keep waiting for the return to normal in order to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones. We cannot keep waiting for the return to normal to live out our lives in general. 

Of course, I understand this longing for normalcy. Trust me. College students can all sympathize over the many little losses we have had to endure throughout this pandemic. As my time as Opinion Editor (and the rest of the Volume 103 staff’s time) for the Ram comes to a close, I can only think of the full semester of in-person production I missed out on due to coronavirus-era virtual classes and activities. Students have missed out on months of in-person classes, field trips, clubs, dances and formals. The list is endless. 

Unfortunately, if we keep waiting for a perfect, COVID-free world, these losses will only continue to add up. 

I am not saying that Americans, or Fordham students, should abandon caution and approach the pandemic with a reckless attitude. Realistically, though, Americans are facing a different world than the one we knew just a year ago. We have increased access to safe, effective vaccines and an increased amount of knowledge surrounding the nature of the virus and how it most commonly spreads. 

We should continue to avoid events that present themselves as obvious coronavirus-spreaders, like crowded areas with unmasked attendees. Those who have yet to receive their vaccine should feel more comfortable now than ever, and those who are fully vaccinated should start preparing for their booster shots. Child vaccination rates are going up, and hopefully will continue to do so. 

Just because you are fully vaccinated, it does not mean you are invincible. But if you are wondering if now is the time to return to family-filled holidays as a fully vaccinated individual, the answer is yes. If not now, when? 

Taylor Herzlich, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Mt. Sinai, N.Y.