By Ken Stern 

This pandemic goes on and on

From the editor-

 


This dot, dot, dot cliche begins “just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water ... .”

The breaking news last Thursday morning was President Joe Biden having tested positive for COVID-19 and had mild symptoms. If this president of the United States, 79 years old and champion of getting this nation through the coronavirus pandemic, was infected, how can anyone in the country believe they have foolproof protection?

Who can have more precautions in place than this president?

The virus continues to mutate. Your fellow Americans – your family, friends and neighbors – want to have lives full of regular, pre-2020 activities, what is more commonly called normalcy. And this is true everywhere, worldwide.

The romantic, rhetorical spun hopes of a few dreamers, for a “new normal” of greater community concern and commitment to one another long ago faded from the conversation. Instead, we are living through “more of the same” every person for himself American individualism.

Yes, most people are vaccinated. And yes, most people will continue to get vaccine boosters as they become available. Vaccinations will become annual, or semi-annual, and most of us will schedule and get our shots. That is how our society has normalized the novel coronavirus in our midst.

This cycle of lulls, with declines in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, have been followed with the rise of more contagious mutant variants, spikes in hospitalizations and ongoing deaths is now in its third year. Obviously, the BA.5 variant Biden likely got sickens the vaccinated. It may be that once again none of us are completely safe. Vaccinated people can be asymptomatic, carrying the virus and test positive while showing no symptoms.

In these summer months many of us are outdoors more, maximizing being in breezy conditions. But most us will shop, make grocery stops and dash inside one place or another. Not everyone can be on the restaurant deck or patio every time they eat out.

For all kinds of reasons, including their own improved mental health, people have wanted and needed to gather. So we have. It helps. People are social animals. We need each other and we enjoy each other. So we connect.

Going to the movies and getting on planes have already become more regular occurrences. Meanwhile, the state health department is reporting that fewer than one in ten new COVID-19 cases are being recorded.

This is what year three of the novel coronavirus pandemic looks like. The difference from earlier years is the overwhelming acceptance of activities as if in the before times. Masks and community and statewide mandates have fallen away. Public health announcements are muted, less frequent and ignored. Yet public health still has the same definition and the same purpose: to protect the health and minimize health risks to the entire population.

It is left to individuals to take precautions and form their own alliances. Masking indoors, gathering outside and social distancing everywhere is the surest, if tedious, measure to minimize getting or spreading the virus.

This forever pandemic means just that. It is worldwide and it is not going away. Summer is fleeting, cold weather will drive us inside and the pattern of increasingly contagious variants has lasted much longer then the Mariners winning streak. It is an almost certain winning bet that the novel coronavirus will continue to break every record in the annals of public health.

This is a streak to neither support nor fall victim to.

 

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