We ended the year with a COVID test. Both my husband and I were having symptoms that could be COVID. No, we did not lose our sense of smell. But we had others. Also, his workplace had a cluster in the last three weeks, but he is religious about his PPE. Three weeks is the limit when you could potentially show symptoms from science. We have not been so happy ever to have a simple cold. Yes, my chest tightness is due to my asthma, not COVID. It happens every time I get an upper respiratory infection. So there is an inhaler. This is why COVID could literally kill me.
Here is the point. Five of his coworkers are out. We had a negative test. We are aware it is a picture in time. My doctor recommended that we retest if he still had upper respiratory symptoms in five days. His have mostly resolved.
At least one of his co-workers was not that strict about maks wearing. He also believed a lot of the conspiracy theories around COVID. Yes, apparently he caught a hoax. So he at times used his mask as a chin warmer.
PPE works so does social distancing and washing your hands.
Then came the tracking from work, not the health department. It happened before we knew either way. They did because his employer is national. One of the questions from the contact tracker was whether he has dined in a restaurant in the last 14 days. We know that more people who test positive have been in restaurants within fourteen days. We have not been to a restaurant since February. We literally stay home if we do not need to get out. Yes, my four walls are boring, but again, this is what we know will keep us safer. There is always a chance I will catch it at the supermarket, but even those trips are early, with a list, and I try hard to keep them under fifteen minutes. He could catch it at work as well.
Any store I have to visit is precisely this. Early, list, and fast.
We will get the vaccine as soon as we are eligible. So for now, we continue the dance with the virus.
We know that even after a second dose, we will continue to mask social distance and wash hands until the experts tell us it is safe.
I know we are all tired. Open defiance of public health orders is one reason for these spikes. Partying like it was 2020 during the holidays and the New Year will get this to rise even further. Hospitals are already on the edge. In my view, we are at a point where triage means rationing of care. I am a former medic, and I do not envy the triage officers who will have to make those decisions. I am still haunted by some of my decisions. The rational mind tells me they were medically and ethically correct. But my heart always makes me ask…what if? More people would have died, who did not because we used scarce resources on patients that were viable and did not waste them on a child with a severe head injury already with agonal breathing. That does not mean it’s easy…and if I had no issues, or flashbacks these days, I would have to question my sanity and humanity.
There is open resistance to public health orders because of the economic cost. (We should have direct payments to employees and defray the cost of rent for business owners and renters. We should also defray the cost to property owners. This way people can afford to stay home in a global pandemic.) The economy is in the midst of a K shaped recovery, with billionaires making out like bandits while poverty increases across the land. Many of our political class talk a good game but refuse to grant even occasional direct payments. See Mitch McConnell refusing to consider a $2000 single time payment. The $600 dollars are an insult to the American people. They are welcomed for those who are desperate but will not go far.
We have an income. Ergo we are somewhat privileged to still get a paycheck, and I understand that. There is resentment growing from desperate people who see others who not suffering. Or not suffering to the same extent. So even essential workers are starting to get despised. There is also a distrust of government and authorities and conviction that this is a hoax. The fake pandemic, we are told, is being used for a few nefarious goals, including taking freedom away.
There are some parallels to the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover, and the Republican Party that existed back then. Theirs was a complete trust in markets, and that everything would be fine. It was not going to without major state intervention in the economy (and heavily taxing the very rich) Now this party is with markets, and the president believed that it would be all right from the beginning. Or told us so, for his own reasons. We are expecting half a million deaths by April. Millions are falling into poverty, and hundreds of thousands are already in the streets that were not when this started. That is not alright. There is desperation in the land.
While economic indicators tell us that we are not in a depression, due to the K shaped recovery a lot of Americans are living in a depressed economy. Sectors such as hospitality, cannot recover until after the vaccine. We also have a serious disconnect since the markets are doing extremely well while Main Street is crashing. The new administration will have to deal with this at the policy level. Just like FDR, they will come in at a moment of crisis where ideological beliefs may no longer be operational As far as we are concerned. We celebrate a simple cold. And we are now on the mend.