North Carolina has experienced just about everything imaginable this year, so with one month to go let’s look at what to expect.
Our COVID-weary people are starving for some good news, good times and some hope. Houses were already decorated, and more than a few Christmas trees could be seen even before Thanksgiving. If you want a live tree, don’t dally selecting it. Families will enjoy nighttime drives to view the yard displays.
Pent-up demand will likely mean holiday retail sales will be good, but you won’t have to fight for a parking space at your favorite mall. The biggest traffic jams will result from all the delivery trucks bringing packages to our homes from online shopping.
Come the second week in December look for yet another big spike in coronavirus numbers, as too many weren’t willing to give up turkey with the family and failed to heed the advice to keep gatherings small, outdoors and wear their masks. Look for hospitals, mostly smaller ones, reporting bed and staffing shortages.
Gov. Cooper is doing his best to avoid further restrictions, as was seen in his recent executive order requiring masks indoors and out unless with immediate family members. Depending on how out of control the numbers become he may be forced to dial back restaurant capacity limits and to close bars, gyms and bowling alleys. Expect partisan voices on the right to blame the restrictions and economic fallout on Cooper, but the truth is the blame is ours; too many of us refused to follow common sense recommendations to wear masks and avoid community gatherings. Bah humbug!
School systems will struggle over whether to continue in-class instruction following the Christmas break, even though our younger students are less likely to get or spread COVID-19. Spreading faster than the virus is the recent report to Wake County Schools that nearly 25 percent of students on all-virtual instruction failed at least one course the first two months this school year. This confirms prevailing notions that we don’t yet know how to effectively deliver virtual learning. Expect to see a larger than normal number of teacher retirements, exacerbating our teacher shortage.
It will take great resolve to have yourself a very merry Christmas. One surefire way to put the ho-ho-ho in your holiday is to refocus. Instead of thinking about ourselves let’s shift our attention to others. There are plenty of reasons to do so.
Families USA projects that almost 250,000 North Carolinians have lost their job-related health insurance. The national Council of State Housing Agencies estimates that some 240,000 North Carolina households will face eviction in January, when folks who can’t pay their rent are no longer prohibited from being evicted. And we are the 10th leading state for hunger. Feeding America says food insecurity is affecting nearly 1 in 5 (19.3 percent) residents in our state. Some 29 percent of children are reported to experience hunger.
North Carolina has a great tradition of helping those in need, so if you are among the fortunate who have avoided the virus and have managed to get by financially, this is the year to share.
Dr. Seuss tells what happens when even the Grinch decides to focus on others: “… the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. ... And he brought back the toys! And the food and the feast! And he himself — he himself, the Grinch — carved the roast beast.”
We can’t promise your heart will grow three sizes, but you can be assured you will get an unequaled feeling come Dec. 31 if you have truly helped others. The need this year is greater than any time in our lives.
Tom Campbell is former assistant state treasurer and creator and host of NC SPIN at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and 12:30 p.m. Sunday on UNC-TV. Contact him at ncspin.com.