Grace and Humanity with Covid During Christmas

Mary Scaletta
4 min readDec 25, 2022
Image Credit: Engin Akyurt via Pexels here:

An elderly woman with a chronic health problem asked Dr. Wen how to stay safe during a large Christmas gathering.

Dr. Wen’s answer is a list of things that should now be standard practice for all large gatherings because no one knows the health status of everyone.

It’s not the standard.

Not even close.

So those with risky health conditions have to Russian Roulette it to be included.

Or speak up.

But it’s really hard for the onus to be left on the person(s) with the health problem to feel like they always have to do the heavy lifting of speaking up and asking everyone to test before they come and to not come if they have any symptoms. And then to ask the host to be running hepa air filters and to have as much ventilation as the weather permits. (Or to have to decide to miss out and not attend the party if these things aren’t being considered.)

It’s a rare person that would feel comfortable doing that, if anyone would.

And people shouldn’t have to divulge their health history in an attempt to persuade others to have a safe enough party for them to attend.

It should be on the host to make a blanket request to everyone to abide by these things and not to expect the person with the illness to feel the shame and awkwardness of having to ask the host or everyone coming to the party, some of which they might not know, to do this.

The host should also have a good plan for ventilation and air filtration without someone having to worry about asking.

(Arguably, with the Long Covid rates, the rise in heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes, the loss of gray matter in scans, the bone loss, the increased risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and a lot of other problems coming from Covid we have no cure for, it’s not just the people with current health problems that should be being cautious… but another time…)

There’s another thing that people should be more aware of.

Many people with health problems who need to completely avoid getting Covid, have a very hard time resisting the peer pressure involved in wearing a mask.

Peer pressure isn’t just a teenager thing. It’s a societal riptide that pulls even the strongest swimmers under.

Someone I know with a worsening health problem that really couldn’t even manage a cold right now, walked into a birthday party, responsibly protecting herself with a mask. One person at the table she walked up to first, looked at her mask and sarcastically said, “Really?!”

She capitulated and sheepishly said, “I’ll probably take it off soon.”

She took it off a few minutes later.

When someone walks in with a mask, you know what the A+ human/most gracious thing would be to do?

Put yours on, too, even if you think you don’t need one — even if you think they don’t work — just to stand in solidarity with that person so they can feel the support and company to keep theirs on and protect themselves.

Swim with them to the side of the riptide and make them feel safe and comfortable.

“Personal responsibility” for Covid is thrown around as if we all need to only be responsible for our self not getting infected.

But it’s a phrase right now because the government isn’t mandating masks. So we need to make these Covid mitigation strategies our PERSONAL responsibility.

But that doesn’t mean we now should only be responsible for our own person. That means we should personally make responsible choices for ourselves and those around us… rather than the government making them.

Recently, someone who works at an office wanted to go visit their parent who had cancer for Christmas, but were afraid to because they would have too much exposure beforehand.

The whole office came in wearing a mask to keep this one person safe so that they could feel okay to go and visit their parent.

That person sat balling at their desk.

That’s the type of grace people need right now.

That’s “personal responsibility”.

That’s humanity.