Give the holiday gift of a healthy life

If the almost 5.5 million deaths from COVID-19 worldwide seem remote and irrelevant in Wrangell; if you feel a safe distance from the 805,000 deaths across the United States; and if the 946 deaths reported in Alaska as of Monday don’t touch anyone in your life, then think about your closer neighbors.

State records show COVID-19 as a cause of death for 14 people in Ketchikan, 15 in Juneau, six in Sitka, three in Petersburg, six in Prince of Wales Island communities and Hyder, three in Angoon, Hoonah and Yakutat, and one in Wrangell.

That’s almost 50 neighbors, friends and family in Southeast Alaska. Hospitalizations in Southeast have totaled 270 since March 2020.

Almost 50 people who died from a highly contagious but preventable — or at least highly avoidable — disease that could be brought more under control if we think about it, rather than assuming someone else will get sick, someone else will die.

If we wear a face mask when indoors in public spaces.

If we treat our neighbors with the courtesy to stay home if we’re feeling sick, or have been around someone who is sick.

If we can manage to care more about our community than our so-called freedom to catch the virus and unknowingly expose others.

If we get vaccinated, regardless of what news channel we watch, despite our distrust of government, and regardless of the development of new drugs that can treat the illness after we catch the infectious virus. Better not to spread the disease than to tell your neighbors, “Sorry about that, take two of these and call me in the morning.”

As of last week, only one-third of Wrangell residents had received their booster dose of a vaccine, according to SEARHC’s online database. That means two-thirds of us are short one shot.

If you are still struggling to find the perfect, last-minute holiday gift for the special friends and family on your list, why not keep it simple: Put on a mask decorated with holiday colors, roll up your sleeve, get the vaccine, including your booster, and then put a bow on your shoulder instead of a Band-Aid.

Take a photo, send it to friends and family, wish them a safe and healthy holiday season, and get them that fruitcake next year. The good thing about fruitcakes is that they last forever. COVID-19 has lasted long enough.

Wrangell Sentinel


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