Sunday, May 16, 2021

Life in the Time of the Virus: Signs of Life

Morning Sun by Edward Hopper - 1952
 It's not over. Not yet. But it feels like there is a long, group, exhalation from holding your breath for too long a time.

The good news is that fatalities are down in the Seattle area, and cases and hospitalizations have leveled off. A recent map of the region put the vacc rate at 70% for at least one shot, the vaccine is plentiful, and a lot of sites are taking walk-ins. But we are still seeing new cases, particularly among younger people. I haven't seen a precise reason yet, but I wonder if it is connected in any way with the re-start of in-person schools. Of course, this was a thought that occurred to me as I was driving over to Covington Labs for a blood draw, and found myself behind multiple school buses. 

The rest of the world continues to pitch and yaw with the disease. India at one time was so untouched that people strained to come up with reasons why. Now it is being hit hard. Russia was under reporting its damage, which is of little surprise. Brazil remains a dumpster fire, and Sweden, who banked on herd immunity, has suffered worse than its Scandinavian neighbors. Island nations keep a tight watch on their borders. And our own official national count may be low as well, and the "real" number of deaths may be up to twice of what we reported.

On a more regional level, the governors are taking it on the chin, red or blue, for a) doing too much, b) not doing enough, or c) doing both at the same time. And even though I am wary of returning to "business as previous", I have to admit we have seen improvements. But improvements are not eradication. 

But the CDC has gone on record in the past week on  pulling off the masks, and though they bunker it in cautious, adult terms (IF you are vaccinated and IF you are outside), it seems like the reaction is as if Landru suddenly shouted "Festival!" (Original Star Trek reference, for the younger kids).  Will we see a bigger fourth wave moving forward, or are enough folk vacced to give us a fighting chance?

At the personal level, the local groceries are still masked up, and I'm good with that, and I will continue to wear masks when indoors in public, and likely when I am outdoors in among strangers as well. My personal favorite mask has a purple octopus on it, and people assume that I am supporting Seattle's nascent hockey team. Our Pandemic Pod has resumed outdoor meetings when the weather is good, all of us grabbing various forms of takeout and camping in the backyard. The Lovely Bride has gotten a brazier for fires, and Housemate Anne has a mosquito-repeller she says will keep the Washington State Bird at bay. The pair have been renovating the garden with surprising speed as the LB emerges from tax hell.

And my company has been putting things together to return people to the office in some form. A lot of my former project-comrades have moved on to other things, but I still have my desk in the office (though last time I was there I had forgotten what floor we were on). And much of Queen Anne Hill and Lake Union are blocked by newer buildings that have gone up in the interim. I did manage to save an overstuffed chair that I call "The Story Chair", where people would come by and our team would talk about story with them. A lot about his (and many other things) is still unknown and unrevealed, but we are moving forward to some semblance of the before-times. 

But for me, I have adapted to working at home well. I've done it before, in the land of freelance, and the ever-available online calls mitigates some of the communication challenge. I have a tidy desk in the corner of my home office dedicated to "the day job", and from here I can see the hummingbirds at the feeder and the crows at the pond fountain. The wisteria and rhododendrons are in bloom. We're holding up OK, and looking forward to the next stage. 

More later,