We’re now well into more than a year of the Covid crisis, and things finally seem to be moving in the right direction. But as BoomerCafé’s co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs writes in this Boomer Opinion piece, while there is good reason for everyone to be helping to get the pandemic under control, it’s not happening.
I have never been healthier.
It seems odd, given this horrible year we’ve had, and given that more than 550,000 of my fellow Americans have died all around me.
But somehow, I’ve never been healthier. Maybe of course I’m forgetting something, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone a whole year without a sore throat, a stuffy nose, a full blown cold, an infection of some sort. A whole year without commonplace regimens of antivirals or antibiotics.
Until this one. Protecting myself from Covid seems to have protected me from sickness overall.
And what has it cost me? Inconveniences of little import. Like paying heed to where I go. And to what I touch. And to who I’m with. Like paying attention to washing my hands. And social distancing. And wearing a mask.
Sometimes these inconveniences are irritants to be sure. But they’ve kept me from getting sick. And from catching Covid.
Not that all who caught Covid were careless. Not by a long shot. Some caught Covid because they were frontline workers who didn’t have the luxury of isolation. Some caught it because unknowingly they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some caught Covid because of one small— but sorrowful— slip. Make no mistake though, some did die because they threw caution to the wind.
What many Americans didn’t figure out, and some still haven’t, is this: Covid doesn’t discriminate. It has claimed Democrats and Republicans, science believers and science skeptics, pro-vaccine advocates and anti-vaccine activists.
That’s what makes the politics of Covid so puzzling. In fact that very phrase is perplexing: “the politics of Covid.” Because the virus doesn’t look at what party you belong to or who you support. It only looks for an opening, a path into our bodies that brings domination, and death.
Yet the conspiracy theories and the social media disinformation and the distrust in institutions and the vaccine fears persist. Which means, a prodigious portion of the population has decided to inhabit another universe where Covid already is history, or a hoax.
It isn’t either.
The pandemic didn’t end overnight, of course, when Joe Biden replaced Donald Trump in the Oval Office, but now, we have a president who deals with the virus seriously rather than disingenuously, and death rates in the U.S. are down from their peak just three months ago— way down— when every single day, more than 4,000 infected Americans were dying. The daily death toll now is still more than 900, but the grim number is moving in the right direction.
Contrast that, here in the world’s third most populous nation, with Brazil, the world’s sixth most populous. Brazil is still led by a Covid denier named Jair Bolsonaro, who continues to renounce virtually every precaution the experts prescribe. So how’s it going under that kind of leadership? Brazil, with only two-thirds of our population, is now losing more than 4,000 people a day.
As we can finally see at least a little light at the end of our own very dark tunnel, that contrast is the best argument for diligence, not ignorance.
The consequence of Covid, after all, isn’t just death. In a study released this week in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, up to one in every three Covid victims shows signs of longer-term troubles. A researcher from Oxford put it simply: “Brain diseases and psychiatric disorders are more common after Covid.”
That would seem to make diligence even more of a directive for anyone whose eyes are wide open, conservative and liberal alike. Citizens who shun vaccines and masks and social distancing can complain all they like about treading on their liberties, but what about them treading on ours? As Dan Rather wrote this week on Substack, “Vaccines are societal medicine.”
Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to risk tolerance. For more than a year now I haven’t done anything stupid like surrounding myself with unmasked shoulder-to-shoulder hoards. But I haven’t holed up like a monk either. All I’ve done is what experts have advised: simple measures to protect myself. The upshot? I haven’t caught Covid. I haven’t even caught a cold.
Even when Covid’s threat of life and death is behind us, the precautions of the past year will leave a legacy. I’ll still be more careful than before about what I touch. And wash my hands more often than I used to. I’ll likely keep carrying disinfectant in my car.
Not because I’ll still be running scared of a pervasive and perilous virus, but because I’ve liked not getting sick, and want to keep the streak alive.