Thankful for health, home and family
As we head into Thanksgiving 2021, I can’t help but be thankful for a multitude of good things that have happened and are just around the corner.
First and foremost, I’m thankful for a happy and healthy family. As we all know, COVID-19 has taken away many loved ones, especially older family members and friends.
I lost a great friend and mentor in Mike Myer, and a family friend in the church I was raised in in St. Marys. But close family appears to have weathered the COVID storm so far, knock on wood. Even those who have largely shrugged off the pandemic despite my pleas to read my stories.
I will feel far better here soon once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves Pfizer’s new COVID-19 anti-viral pill Paxlovid. Pfizer applied for emergency authorization for Paxlovid last Tuesday, with approval likely being granted before the end of the year.
According to reports, Paxlovid can reduce rates of hospitalizations and deaths by 89 percent as long as it is taken within three days of reported COVID-19 symptoms. Merck also has an oral anti-viral in the works that the FDA is looking at, though it doesn’t have the effectiveness of the Pfizer drug.
Gov. Jim Justice and state health officials have been doing everything but physically going door-to-door to get eligible West Virginians to get vaccinated for COVID-19 since the first vaccine was approved nearly one year ago. Frankly, we’ve done a good job with our older populations. According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, 80.2 percent of those older than 71 are fully vaccinated, followed by 72.4 percent of people between the ages of 61-70 and 61.2 percent of people between the ages of 51-60.
Yet, it’s pretty much Generation X and down who have decided they don’t need the vaccine. Only 54.1 percent of residents between the ages of 41-50 are fully vaccinated, followed by 47.6 percent of ages 31-40, 42.9 percent of ages 21-25, 42.3 percent of ages 16-20, 39.8 percent of ages 26-30, and 31.3 percent of ages 12-15.
As a result of those who decided to not get vaccinated despite the overwhelming evidence that the vaccines provide a great deal of protection against severe infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, we saw our hospitalizations and deaths spike worse than last winter’s COVID-19 surge. Even though the hospitalizations have come down some over the last few weeks, they’re still high during a time when hospitalizations are usually already high.
I write all of that to get to this point: the Pfizer and Merck COVID-19 pills could really change everything. No, they won’t end COVID-19. I’m afraid that COVID-19 is here for good, and I suspect we’ll have to get COVID-19 vaccines along with flu shots every year. However, if you can greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization and deaths like the pills appear to do, that renders COVID-19 an endemic virus. I’ll be thankful for that and hopefully we’ll see some of these COVID-19 restrictions, mask mandates, and craziness in schools go away.
Mind you, most of those restrictions you hear about in other states are not here in West Virginia thankfully. But with the anti-viral pills, I hope some of the restrictions in our schools get lifted to help give our school-age children some semblance of normalcy.
I’m also thankful for having our first house. I just celebrated nine years living together with my wife of more than five years. We moved into a one-bedroom apartment on Charleston’s East End probably a year after we started dating.
We reporters don’t make much money in our younger years. I was a college drop-out with a default on my student loan, and IRS debt from my days working as a contract employee and not paying the taxes, and a credit score in the dumps. And when I told the woman who would be my girlfriend shortly thereafter and later my wife, it took an additional few months to win her over.
I’m grateful for that, as she played a huge role in me straightening up my life financially. I got out of default on my student loans, paid off my IRS debt, and greatly improved my credit score. Nine years later, we both were able to get a mortgage and buy our very first home. The interest rate is low, and with all of our bills we actually pay slightly less than we were paying for the two-bedroom apartment we moved into in 2013 and stayed in until October of this year.
We were able to find our home, close on it, and move in in just over three weeks. It’s taken us about two weeks to get the house put together the way we like. And even though we live on the Edgewood hill on Charleston’s West Side, we still have deer who come into our neighborhood on a nearly daily basis.
We just celebrated my wife’s 35th birthday last week with friends in our home, and we’ll welcome her mom and my dad for Thanksgiving this week in our new dining room. And I’ll be thankful and grateful for all of these experiences and the memories to come.
(Adams is the state government reporter for Ogden Newspapers. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)