It was on a rainy Thursday morning in April that COVID-19 became quite real to me. My parents had tested positive several days earlier and my mom was calling from the parking lot of a local hospital, where she’d just left my father at the curb of a newly created entrance for coronavirus patients. She hadn’t experienced any symptoms (“maybe I had a little bit of a scratchy throat last week”) but dad was in rough shape, unable to eat or talk.

What he wasn’t, we soon learned, was sick enough to be admitted. The nurses administered an IV full of fluids and basically carried him back to the car. But on the phone, before his return, my mom ping-ponged between dread and confusion. There was a “could this really be how it ends?” undercurrent that I willed myself not to hear.

It took a month and three more hospital visits, but dad recovered. Some 320,000 Americans did not. Let’s remember them, and the families who have suffered painful losses, before we attempt to wrap a happy holiday bow around this garbage barge of a year.

Better times are ahead. They’re not here yet. Let’s beat this thing together.

This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,358 words and will take you six minutes to read. 

The wrap

For all the low humanity we’ve been exposed to during the last nine months – the maskless processions through Target, the prioritization of politics over public health – the best of us has similarly been on display. Physicians and other healthcare providers worked themselves ragged. Scientists executed an unprecedented turnaround on vaccines (note the plural). Grocery store clerks and correctional officers and meatpackers went to work every day at great risk to themselves and, ultimately, their families. They pushed forward, because what other choice was there?

The takeaway: Heroes have not been in short supply. There is plenty for which to be thankful.

Source: Getty

The first recipients

A buddy of mine, an emergency room physician, received the vaccine the first day it was available. When we took the kids sledding over the weekend, he still wore a mask. Whether or not you’re in the first wave of vaccine recipients or the 18th, be like my friend.

The takeaway: There have been hiccups, as witnessed by the New Jersey story immediately above. But all in all, it feels like we’re off to a good start.

Source: Getty

The longer haul

Given that the future has been changing every few hours since March, I’m hesitant to make any predictions about the stretch that lies immediately ahead of us, much less 2021 writ large. So let’s go with “the Chiefs are going to win back-to-back Super Bowls” and call it a wrap on all prognostication-related activities.

The takeaway: Here’s hoping that a year from now, there won’t be any pressing reason for newsletters to materialize in your emailboxes every week. But let’s stay in touch nonetheless, okay?

The rest

…and some songs.

Up Around the Bend, Creedence Clearwater Revival

Sail On!, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Party at Ground Zero, Fishbone

Something Good Coming, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

That’s it for this final 2020 edition of the Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing… and that’s it for the Briefing itself, at least in this incarnation. On Wednesday January 6, we’ll be back in your emailboxes with The Vaccine Project, the newsletter component of a larger communications effort exploring the logistical, behavioral and informational challenges that come with vaccinating the world population. We strongly suspect that there will be no shortage of material to cover and insights to share, and we’ll do it in the same style that you’ve come to enjoy – we hope – in the Coronavirus Briefing.

Many thanks for reading and especially for your support and encouragement over the course of the last nine months. Wishing those who celebrate a Merry Christmas and a Happy Kwanzaa, and here’s to a 2021 that we never once describe as “unprecedented.”