CoVID-19 at Nine Months In

I haven’t given a coronavirus update in a while, mainly because it’s frustrating and foolish and hard to write about. But I think it’s important to document.

I last left off in the middle of summer. Late summer continued in relative safety, as many things opened up again and restrictions relaxed as we headed into school. Many of us were cautiously optimistic. While normal summer things like vacation and the state fair were cancelled, being able to get outside and eat in restaurants felt like a return to normal.

It didn’t last.

School started, and many schools opted for in-person learning. We chose to keep our kids home for distance learning, mainly because we were able to without much difficulty and that seemed safer than sending three people to three different schools and sharing germs among all three. The schools actually slowly phased in the in-person learning option, and by the time they did it the case numbers were rising again and parents were clamoring to send kids home. So staying home all along felt like the safer move.

I took a solo vacation to the North Shore in October. Take out food and steering clear of people. Kind of weird, but it was good to be out. Milo and I took a similar trip a couple weeks later, but the weather didn’t cooperate and we spent most of the time driving. We made it all the way to the Canadian border (couldn’t cross, thanks COVID).

Through the fall things continued to slowly worsen. I had been to a few restaurants for in-person dining over the summer and early fall, but that soon felt like a bad idea.

Politically things seemed nuts as President Donald Trump continued to downplay everything, even as the long-predicted fall surge continued and Trump himself became sick. You’d think that might chasten him, he’d encourage masks and end the conspiracy theories, but no. Shot full of experimental drugs most people can’t get, he recovered (which is good) and thought himself invincible.

By mid-November all the numbers were rising and things looked bleak. Restrictions were back in place and the CDC advised people to stay home for Thanksgiving. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask during a global pandemic, especially as we crossed the milestone of 250,000 people dead.

But that didn’t slow people down and all these anti-mask, ‘don’t tell me how to live’ people defied the orders, only making things worse.

Now we’re heading into Christmas and we just crossed 300,000 dead. Christmas would be a good time to stay home too, but so many people are defying that as well.

It’s frustrating, because all these closures harm businesses and harm people, but letting everyone go about their business is also killing people. It’s maddening that we can get executive orders on the state level to shut things down, but we can’t get financial relief on the federal level to match those shut down orders.

And more people die.

That sounds bleak, and it is, though personally we’re doing OK. We’ve been healthy and the worst we have to deal with is cabin fever and borderline depression (which is no joke, but we’re not sick, so I call it a win). We bought a Nintendo Switch just before Thanksgiving to help us power through.

I will admit that every scratchy throat and runny nose I had this fall had me worried. Is this it? Am I contagious? They all turned out to be nothing—dry winter air and all—but you can’t help jumping to conclusions during a pandemic.

As bleak as it is, life feels relatively safe. Most people wear masks here, so it feels safe to go to the grocery store, go Christmas shopping, etc. It does mean not eating out, limiting trips, etc. The kids had regular checkups this fall and we got flu shots. We get take out on a regular basis. I went to city council meetings, scoring one of the 10 allotted seats for the public (before they went back to virtual meetings this week).

The only good news is that they’re rolling out vaccines now. The speed at which these were developed and tested is incredible. Of course getting the entire country vaccinated is going to take a while. I imagine we’ll be wearing masks for all of 2021—or we should be.

This is all the backdrop to the 2020 election drama, where Joe Biden wins the presidency and Trump and the Republicans spend weeks on end denying it. The electoral college voted this week and it should be done and over, but Trump still refuses to concede. That just adds anxiety to everything that we don’t need.

I’ll close with a Texas Monthly article I came across today that prompted me to finally write an update. The article interviewed wedding photographers who have to deal with people ignoring guidelines so they can still have their special day.

The article opens with a photographer at a wedding where she’s the only one wearing a mask. Then a bridesmaid lets slip that the groom is positive for COVID-19, but they’re not telling anyone.

The photographer caught COVID-19.

She recalled one conversation from that wedding, before she left the reception. “I have children,” she told a bridesmaid, “What if my children die?” The bridesmaid responded, “I understand, but this is her wedding day.”

Perhaps the most eye-opening and depressing part about this pandemic is watching the United States lead the world in deaths and cases and having the all-around worst response to this.

We’re a bunch of selfish assholes.

We’re literally choosing to kill people rather than wear a mask or be inconvenienced.

I don’t have words for that.

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