This is a different October. Again.

It’s safe to say, most of us thought this would all be over by now. Who among us, when news of a novel coronavirus first appeared on our smartphones, televisions and newspapers in early 2020, thought we would be maintaining social distance and covering our mouths two years later? And that is even after the miracles that are the three vaccines that came to market in record time and have changed the course of the pandemic for the better.

When the governor announced in June that California was taking tentative steps to reopen, most of us imagined a fall and winter marked by a return to family and friends and beloved traditions like the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival.

But that was before Delta. Case rates that had been on a steady decline for most of the year spiked, reaching a high of 152,656 across the country on Sept. 14. Hospitals from Idaho to Louisiana filled with those who thought vaccines developed by scientists were more dangerous than the killer virus itself. There have now been more than 700,000 deaths in the United States alone that are attributable to COVID-19. Still, 18 months into the pandemic, 2,000 Americans die every day due to COVID-19.

The graph has improved greatly since mid-September. Case rates are down, in part because of mask mandates and employers, concert venues and sports teams requiring vaccines for anyone hoping to take part in normal life. And California is leading the way. Lately, there have been fewer than 8,000 cases per day in our state — 19 per 100,000, which is less than half the rate at which states including Alabama, Wyoming, Alaska and Mississippi are experiencing infection.

We mention that because it relates to our October. We know you see large crowds at college football games and concerts and other gatherings. And not just in other states. Crowds descend on our football games and concerts, too. But it’s clear that Californians have been taking the virus — and precautions — more seriously than people in many places.

Which is why the Pumpkin Festival has been put on hold yet again. We know many have taken issue with the City Council for its unanimous vote against granting a special permit for the festival. But put yourself in the shoes of the local elected official asked to weigh fun and profit against sickness and death. Could it have been held safely? Could we invite an unknown number of people from who knows where to the coast without spreading the virus to even one more person?

We don’t profess to know, and we understand that your assessment of risk may vary, but we are sure there will not be any more sickness and death as a result of not holding the festival, which helps many local nonprofits but is not essential to life on the coast.

We are all tired of this. We are tired of a remote feeling that extends beyond our endless Zoom calls. We want our holiday season back. For that to happen, we all must remain diligent as long as health experts say our diligence is required. San Mateo County says 95 percent of residents are vaccinated against the virus, but statewide the number remains below 60 percent. We can see a brighter day, as long as we don’t get lost in the fog of our own feelings.

— Clay Lambert

Clay Lambert is the editorial director for Coastside News Group. After years working at regional daily newspapers, he began as editor of the Half Moon Bay Review in 2004.

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(3) comments

here ya' go

“ Hospitals from Idaho to Louisiana filled with those who thought vaccines developed by scientists were more dangerous than the killer virus itself.”

So they rejected the science, got sick, and then ran to the hospital looking for science to make them well. Got it.

August West

"anyone hoping to take part in normal life."

I have been vaccinated since March and this is such an utterly ridiculous theme.

"Normal life" exists outside of the Bay Area bubble - experience it sometime. Stop being afraid and trying to make people afraid.

99.7% Just stop.

Scott McVicker

In the video link which has now been removed, the message was for those not afflicted by the fear to keep speaking up, reminding others of actual statistics and exposing those who would keep us unduly focused on this one issue...to Society's detriment.

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