Fourth, very high community spread makes it more likely an infection will kill you. Treatments have improved considerably since early spring. But that helps only if hospitals have the “space, staff, and stuff” to provide optimal treatment. Some hospitals have already breached their limit in one or more of those categories. And because the epidemic is nationwide, rather than regional, it will get harder and harder for overstretched health systems to draw emergency assistance from other areas, as New York did in the spring. So the risk is mounting that large Thanksgiving celebrations will be followed by small Christmas funerals, as the Mississippi Board of Health so pungently put it.

With a tidal wave of cases about to crash over hospitals, we should all do our best not to become that “young healthy patient” whose unexpected need for high-flow oxygen means that someone’s grandmother dies alone. Or the asymptomatic spreader who infected Grandma in the first place. Or just one of thousands of covid cases that pushed the system to its limit, leaving more victims of car accidents, heart attacks and strokes without adequate treatment.