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I’m a doctor. Please don’t gather with family and friends these holidays and risk getting COVID-19

Hospitals are filling up with COVID-19 patients. We must be vigilant to protect against the spread of this deadly disease by avoiding situations that increase the risk of contracting or spreading it.

A medical professional conducts a drive-through coronavirus test at Roseland Hospital.
A medical professional conducts a drive-through coronavirus test at Roseland Hospital.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Sometimes doctors have to deliver bad news to their patients. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, the physicians of Illinois implore you to reconsider your holiday plans this year. Large gatherings of family and friends inside a home or restaurant are not a good idea. Nor is playing that traditional Thanksgiving football game with a bunch of people you haven’t seen in a long time.

We are experiencing yet another dramatic increase in COVID cases and our Illinois hospitals are filling up with patients. We know how much you want to celebrate, but your doctor wants you to stay healthy by avoiding situations that increase your risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Sadly, that means staying away from your loved ones who may be most vulnerable to this deadly virus.

Although many may be suffering from COVID-19 fatigue, it’s important to stay particularly vigilant to protect against the spread of the coronavirus this holiday season. That means wearing a face covering in public places, keeping a physical distance from people who are not in your household, and washing your hands often and thoroughly.

Enjoy the holidays safely and please consider a virtual gathering via computer or telephone.

Robert W. Panton, MD, president, Illinois State Medical Society

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A rallying cry for change

Five days after the new president’s swearing-in, I will celebrate my 60th year on planet Earth, making my Baby Boomer moniker an absolute reality. I cannot stop the aging process, my graying hair, or my love for 70’s music.

In preparing to celebrate this milestone, I vowed to take an extended birthday trip to a far-off place if he-whose-name-I-do-not-want-to-mention was re-elected. I will age as surely as the presidential election’s results confirm Joe Biden won. Lawsuits, legal wrangling, and weaving a motorcade through crowds of followers will not change the election’s clear result.

I will not be taking that birthday trip, and I will not see a second Trump presidency. I also do not expect January 20 to usher in the new Age of Aquarius. Undoing the divisiveness of the past four years will take years, but finding common ground to help middle-class, working, and low-income families require immediate action. Can Congressional leaders think beyond their self-interest and re-election? The nation should expect no less.

I do expect a fistful of hopefulness and transparency from the Biden Administration, an end to the political gridlock, and returning to a modicum of respect and dignity. Character and collaboration must now guide the legislative and executive branches and both political parties.

As the Hairspray lyric declares, ”You can try to stop the hands of time, but you know, it just can’t be. You can’t stop the beat.” I cannot stop the aging process, just as I know that no one can stop the public outcry for change.

Even as Trump’s political machinations continue, his wishful delusions cannot stop the current beat or the hands of time. And fortunately, the name-calling, bigotry, blame-and-shame, and dog-whistle antics will all become part of history’s dustbin. What a birthday gift!

Esther Nieves, Wicker Park

Give a hand to others

Reading Nancy Shevel’s letter this morning on giving a hand against hunger made my day brighter. Thank you, Nancy, for taking the time to write such an inspiring letter.

We all have to be reminded of the large numbers of food insecure people in our own country and to give a hand whenever possible. And now is the time to also extend a hand to people of different political and religious views.

Celebrate this season of gratitude, whatever your circumstance, and make it a year-long promise.

Claudia Laupmanis, Edgewater