Happy Thanksgiving to All! Be Well and Safe

For the families of 200,000-plus, and counting, as well as the over 11 million who’ve contracted the coronavirus – this Thanksgiving will take on added meaning. To those millions of others who’ve lost their jobs or their fortunes as their small businesses went under this year, they too will look at this Thanksgiving like no other. At various degrees, all of us have been changed due to the coronavirus and find the traditional day of giving thanks in a different light.

Throughout the year, we’ve relied on optimism, humor, psychological detachment from reality, and many other coping mechanisms to get by. Giving thanks can reasonably be rejected this year for those who’ve lost close family. Thanksgiving, perhaps will be spent grieving and suffering as it would be the first holiday without their loved ones present.

For those who’ve contracted COVID-19 and survived, perhaps their Thanksgiving will go deeper than appreciation as they could be challenging at this very moment their old models they’ve had of what the meaning in life is and begin to search for understanding to the seemingly randomness of life events. “I don’t even know how I got the coronavirus. I’ve been taking precautions. Then there are others who’ve been reckless and haven’t gotten it. It’s just all unfair,” – a typical response of COVID-19 survivors.

Then there is yet another matter of surviving COVID-19 — the medical bills that have racked up.

A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the average cost of COVID-19 treatment for someone with employer insurance—and without complications—would be about $9,763. Someone whose treatment has complications may see bills about double that: $20,292. Individual plans vary, depending on cost-sharing and caps.

Uninsured Americans with COVID-19 would pay an estimated average of $73,300 for a 6-day hospital stay, according to a recent report by FAIR Health.

The financial toll of the virus is not limited to those who’ve contracted the virus. Also effected are millions of others who haven’t contracted COVID-19. Hawaii residents have experienced among the worst unemployment rates this year. Hawaii had the second highest rate among states for permanent business closures from March 1 to July 10, at 6.9 permanent closures per 1,000 businesses.

Hawaii’s rate, which trailed only Nevada at 7.3, suggests that more than 1,000 Hawaii businesses may have already folded. Honolulu’s permanent business closure rate of 7.9 was third-highest among U.S. cities, behind only Las Vegas and Stockton, Calif., and just ahead of San Francisco.

Thanksgiving Day celebration
On top of the human and financial loss, the pandemic is not over but at its peak. So Thanksgiving itself will no doubt be different. The CDC is recommending that celebration be kept to those only in one’s household. That means no visiting family, in-town or out-of-town. No potlucks and group fun.

Some people will integrate internet virtual connections or talking on the phone with loved ones. Some have planned charitable ways to celebrate like shopping and delivering food to an elderly person who could be spending Thanksgiving alone. Some say they will forego Thanksgiving celebration altogether. Some say they want to donate to the Food Bank grocery or write a check to help needy and homeless families.

Helping the homeless and needy has been a long-standing tradition on Thanksgiving, for obvious reasons. In addition to our homeless population, helping those who’ve been hurt by the coronavirus could be much welcomed. Donating food or even a monetary gift to go to someone unemployed due to COVID, someone behind on rent because of COVID.

If there’s a lesson we can take from the pandemic is how our lives are interconnected in so many ways. From global to community, our actions have reverberating impact.

Last Thanksgiving 2019, the millions of Americans impacted by the pandemic this year, never could have imagined how dramatically their lives would change in 2020. Many of them were also the ones doing good, doing charitable work each Thanksgiving. Now it could be their turn to receive good tidings.

Insensitivity
The pandemic is changing the way people see the world. An example just days ago, Island 98.5 DJ “Slick Vic” Harris was suspended for his mocking comments of a local entertainer Paula Fuga during a show and fundraiser for the Hawaii Food Bank. Fundraisers are common for the Food Bank just before Thanksgiving day.

Fuga was at the fundraiser to talk about her experience as a homeless child on the beach growing up. She talked about how she was so hungry and resorted to going through trash cans for food.

Below is a transcription of the interaction:

Paula: I could cry thinking about it. In the dark, with my hand from the trash can. You want a visual?
Host: That’s what this radiothon is for.
Paula: Would you like to dig deeper into my soul?
Host: I love your soul, I love your soul.
Paula: Do you have a box of tissue?
Host: No but we got a trash can right over there by the bar.
Another host: Just in case she’s hungry.

The insensitive joke most likely would have been overlooked prior to the pandemic. But that incident lit up social media and received major blowback.

The reaction to the host’s insensitivity is clearly related to the many isle residents who are experiencing intense hardship of their own this year, including the possibility of not making rent and going homeless themselves.

It’s commonly said suffering makes a person better because that person’s perspective is broadened. If there is a silver lining going into Thanksgiving Day we could be thankful about at least for some of us, perhaps it’s that the pandemic has made us more caring and compassionate.

Happy Thanksgiving to All! May our good Lord bless you and your family. Be safe.


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