I remember first hearing about Covid-19 about two years ago. Which makes sense since, you know, “19.” For me, it’s closely associated with the holidays because we were on a family Christmas vacation to our favorite place in the world and talking innocently about it as if it wasn’t about to flip the whole world upside down and shake it like it was trying to dislodge lunch money.
Then I remember coming back to the real world and having talks at work about it and what we’d do when “community spread” inevitably started in our state. Most of the folks in the company thought the few of us saying things like “quarantine” and “shut-down” were being alarmist. We closed our office and had people working from home earlier than most, but things started to move very quickly in February and March of 2020. I thought maybe that’d last about a month. Six weeks, tops. We were the United States, for god’s sake. We knew how to handle shit like this. Lesson in hubris learned. Lesson in how selfish some of us are learned.
As plugged into Covid as I thought I was, I distinctly remember the creeping horror movie moment of being at Target and seeing empty grocery shelves and people shopping like they thought the world was coming to an end. As plugged into Covid as I thought I was, I was not prepared for what it actually meant to live though a global pandemic. I remember worrying desperately for my mom, my employees, and my family. We were not prepared — none of us, though we knew this thing was going to happen some day.
I was an early advocate for universal mask usage and recall thinking the CDC was making a grave error when they pretended they weren’t necessary to wear (moral: always tell the truth as best you know it). I am also a fervent advocate for vaccination. I have been doing my best to let science be my guide throughout Covid, understanding that science isn’t an always forward-moving thing and needs time to solidify.
I say all that because even though it’s the holidays again and we’re scheduled to make our holiday trip to our favorite place next week (and require negative Covid tests to do so) and there’s an aggressively contagious new variant rushing around the world and more than a 1,000 Americans a day are dropping dead, things aren’t the same as they were two years ago. I’m not the same. I went to see Spider-Man last night. In a pretty full theater. With crowds of people in the lobby. I mean, I was masked, but 2/3 of those around me weren’t (which means my mask wasn’t doing much good to protect me).
Thing is, I am just so fucking tired of Covid. Everyone is. And there are vanishingly few things I love more than seeing new Marvel movies with my kids. So that’s what I did. With a bunch of other people who feel the same way, apparently.
In Minnesota, 71% of people have at least one vaccine shot. In my county, that number’s 81%. Ninety-nine percent of my fellow Hennepin Countians who are the most at-risk for serious illness and death are vaccinated. And there’s a ton of early data that suggest Omicron is, yes, much more infections but also instigates noticeably less severe illness. I’m triple vaxxed as is my entire family. As could be everyone I see around me (except those who have some pre-existing medical issue that complicates their vaccination). We are flooded with vaccine in the United States.
At one point last night, I looked around at all those happy-looking, festive, spider person fans smiling and talking and laughing and breathing all over one another and wondered if I was still in my own little corner of the multiverse. Had I slipped into a reality without Omicron? What were these people thinking? Then it occurred to me that I was also there. And I was there because we’re not in a pandemic anymore.
Covid is endemic now.
We can no longer avoid getting it while living a normal-looking life. And the people most at risk at this point are the ones too stupid to do the most obviously right thing: get fucking vaccinated. The vast overwhelming majority of those in the hospital for Covid are the unvaxxed. The vast overwhelming majority of the dead are unvaxxed (more than 160,000 since June in the U.S.). It’s probably the case that most of the spread we’re seeing is, you guessed it, from the unvaxxed. So me and, statistically, 8 out of 10 of the people at the movie with me last night had little to realistically fear from Covid. And nearly all the victims of it now are people who have made a conscious decision to remain vulnerable. And, honestly, the rest of us can’t be bothered to do anything anymore for their benefit.
I’m gonna get Covid. At some point, if I haven’t already had it. It’s a certainty. And when I do, it will almost certainly be a moderate to mild illness. And I’ll get over it. Because too many of us have refused to do the right thing for themselves and everyone else in our society, the “post-Covid” ship sailed a long time ago. It’s never going away. Thankfully, for those with the reasoning to appreciate it, we have modern medical science to make it a nuisance.
There are indications Omicron is exactly what we needed. A variant that creates less severe illness, especially in those of us who are protected, and spreads quickly. Our best hope is to use the vaccine to help build our immune defenses so we can easily survive infection. If you refuse that simple miracle of human achievement for whatever reason, Dr. Darwin will explain it to you in the afterlife.
In the mean time…Jesus, I’m just so fucking tired. Of all this.