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Opinion
Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: Uncomfortable, Annoying, Essential

We had pretty much decided without making it official, but we said it out loud the other night: We’re not going anywhere for Thanksgiving. We’ve had to work a few Thanksgivings over the years. But I think this is the first time in my adult life that I’m staying home by choice.

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Well, it isn’t exactly a choice. It’s COVID-19’s choice. The virus is the captain now. It will guide our lives until we beat it down. The problem, as with so many things these days, is that a large segment of America is not willing to face reality.

Over the past two weeks, the country has regularly set new records in COVID-19 cases. About half a million people in the Carolinas have come down with the virus, and close to 9,000 have died. That’s more than three times the number of people here who have died in car accidents this year. COVID-19 is a slow car crash from the inside out, wrecking American lives every day, and the most infuriating thing is how easy it would be to stop it.

Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you go out. Stay six feet apart. Wash your hands.

Those have been the instructions pretty much since Day One of the pandemic. But so many of us just can’t or won’t do it. A gathering at one of the United House of Prayer churches led to more than 200 cases and nine deaths so far. The other night, after Notre Dame beat Clemson, thousands of students rushed the field in South Bend. The Sturgis biker rally in South Dakota might’ve been the biggest superspreaders of all.

With the number of cases continuing to surge, we're looking at a bleak fall and winter if our collective behavior doesn't change.

It’s depressing to still be on a lockdown of sorts, eight months after this all started. It’s heartbreaking to be separated from family and friends. It’s frustrating to have to follow all these new rules.

But it’s the only way we get our old lives back.

The other day, somebody asked New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy what he would say to somebody who found wearing a mask to be uncomfortable and annoying. He replied: “You know what’s really uncomfortable and annoying? When you die.”

That’s the bottom line. That’s why we’re staying home this Thanksgiving. To make sure we all get to see another one.

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