The virus doesn’t care.

It doesn’t care if you are young or old. Thin or fat. Rich or poor.

It doesn’t care about your politics. It doesn’t care if you believe it exists. It doesn’t care if you don’t wear a mask. It doesn’t care if you were careful once last week, or if you are careful every day.

It doesn’t care if you suffer from pandemic fatigue. It doesn’t care about missed birthdays and holidays. Or lost hugs from grandchildren.

It. Does. Not. Care.

That’s why we all must care. Not for the virus but for one another.

It will not kill most of us, but it has killed many, and is on track to kill many more.

We are not OK with sacrificing any life to this disease, to writing off anybody’s somebody.

That’s why we all must sacrifice something now — a few conveniences, many comforts, a milestone or three — to give others a fighting chance.

We’re all in this together.

It may not seem like it, but the future of our society, a culture that emphasizes values of self-reliance and independence, depends upon our ability to think and act selflessly during the coming weeks and months. This week kicks off a series of mountainous challenges for our nation, beginning with public health orders and expert guidance that place a crimp on our holiday plans, and likely extending through the day when we watch as limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccines trickle into our communities.

Between: thousands of junctures when we will face opportunities to set aside our personal beliefs and politics and prioritize the health of our neighbors and the collective wellbeing of our community.

And recent history shows we aren’t always particularly adept at working together for our nation’s collective best interest.

That’s why we come to you with an appeal, a plea for all to act in the best interest of others this holiday season. Listen to the guidance being delivered to us by the experts in our orbit. That means the actual experts, scientists and infectious disease doctors and public health workers. And no, your brother’s podiatrist (no offense to the foot doctors in the room) isn’t an infectious disease expert. Neither is the pundit who makes a living guessing outcomes of elections on cable TV news. Or pretty much anyone who reposts a meme on social media.

No, at this moment, more than any other during the nine months since our world was upended by this microscopic terror, we must act together.

Holiday gatherings simply can’t proceed as normal, Thanksgiving cannot be a day for gathering around a long table this year with friends and family young and old.

During the past few weeks, the experts in our state and in our counties have continued to sound alarm as they saw the virus shift from a lingering nuisance in many areas to an out of control freight train.

During the past four weeks, new infections and subsequent hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Michigan have skyrocketed, a rise that now has nearly matched the peak from the worst weeks last spring. And that meteoric rise will continue.

The fact is, we have few tools to combat the virus except masks, hygiene and keeping our distance from one another.

That’s why this Thanksgiving it is imperative we all, vulnerable or not, follow the advice of the experts in our community and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stay home to celebrate. Watch football on TV. Go for a walk. Join family with a video call.

We all shoulder this burden together, and only together can we ensure we all have an opportunity to celebrate the holidays together next year.

The virus doesn’t care about our vulnerable loved ones, but we sure do.

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