Monday, August 02, 2021

Life in the Time of the Virus: Resurgence

Sailing, Edward Hopper, 1911, CMOA
 I thought it was over. I admit it. I was wrong.

We had the vaccines. We wore the masks. We washed our hands and did not congregate. We ordered out. We acted like grown-ups. We drove the numbers down. 

And now COVID is on the rise once more.

Part of it is biology - there's a new variant (Delta) which is swamping the original virus. And part of it is sociology as well - not enough of us took the damned thing serious. There are enough holes in the safety net that once hospitals are once more approaching overload, and all the work of the past year and a half is slipping down the drain.

My Facebook has been filled with stories in three acts: Act One is someone saying that they won't get vaccinated for some (usually stupid, often ephemeral) reason. Act Two reveals that they have been hospitalized for Covid. Act Three is a GoFundMe for their funeral. Skeptical me,  I've run more than a few of these stories to ground (because not everyone is THAT stupid, right?), and sadly they have panned out as true. Yet still people resist, or, just as bad, fail to act.

Some of it is political. There are a lot of folk that support the previous guy in the White House who also don't trust vaccines, but the Venn Diagram of the two groups is not a perfect circle. There are conservatives who have vacced up (including a lot of people who disparage vaccines publicly) and their are lefties who have passed on it. Sometimes it is distrust. Sometimes it is lack of opportunity. Sometimes it is a believe that they and theirs will somehow be spared.

And there is a problem even for the vaccinated. We speak now of breakthrough cases, where those who have been vaccinated get a does of the disease anyway. So far, the cases have been mild, and not requiring hospitalization in most cases, but they are still there, and virulent. The vaccines are damage resistance, not damage immunity.

And there is one study (not professionally reviewed as yet) which puts my brand of vaccine as being suitably less effective against Delta. No one else has moved forward on this, so I am a bit concerned. I have immunocompromised friend in the house, so I am staying masked up when outside the home and (still nearly empty) office. And yeah, if they say we need a booster, I'm doing it. I'll take a couple days of feeling "meh" to a trip to the hospital.

I've made two trips to Pittsburgh in the past month, and, outside the airport (where TSA rules still apply) and health care facilities, the masks are gone. It feels like we are just taunting the virus to pick us off (The Virus does not respond to taunts - it is not listening, but such is our need for narrative that we anthropomorphize it into a supervillain). The only masks I saw were with service personnel.

And we are as a people horribly resistant to returning to quarantine procedures, even as the hospitals fill up. Already propagandists have campaigned hard against existing limitations, and the slightest hint of reinstatement sends them to their microphones for another broadside. 

It feels like we declared victory too soon, and threw ourselves a parade while the enemy was still on the battlefield. And now we're paying the price.

Sorry to be a downer, but there will be more, later.