One full year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve whole months of worry, wonder, weariness and mask-wearing.
Even for those who aren’t “long-haulers,” it’s undeniably been a long haul.
Thinking back to March 2020 requires all kinds of energy. My mother had just died and I was in the throes of sorting her financial and household affairs. While that consumed countless hours and much mental space, unsettling news swirled about a new coronavirus that was contagious and medically unexplored.
As the calendar had slipped into March, a portion of my conscious self was also involved in accompanying for the Worthington High School musical “Once Upon a Mattress,” a frothy, funny show that nonetheless delivers pointed messages about prejudice, acceptance and social mores.
Little did I know my long unbroken chain of musical involvement would thereafter be snapped, in concert with a 102-year national reprieve from a life-sapping pandemic.
On March 7, 2021, the U.S. registered 525,000 deaths from COVID-19, with an excess of 29 million cases on record. Closer to home, Minnesota has logged more than 6,620 COVID-19 deaths as of this week; 47 of those were in Nobles County. Nationally, we are still experiencing over 1,600 weekly COVID-related deaths. (Statistics courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
While we in some ways resemble the frozen-in-place courtiers whose lives instantly paused when Princess Aurora pricked her finger on a spindle in the Brothers Grimm version of the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” much has changed.
The medical establishment now has basic knowledge of COVID-19 and treatment procedures; vaccines were successfully developed and are being administered; nearly everyone from toddlers to great-grandparents can Zoom; few people, if any, are still disinfecting soup cans and Tide bottles.
But the pandemic has revealed ugly realities about human nature that time has failed to erase. Scientists have received as much pushback about their findings from certain segments of society as Nicolaus Copernicus did in the early 1500s when presenting his theory that the sun was the universe’s stationary center.
Some people have followed the rules to a fault while others immediately screamed for personal freedom and demanded restrictions be lifted even as morgues and hospital wards were filled to overflowing.
Patience may be a virtue, but it’s apparently one fruit of the Spirit many aren’t choosing to nurture.
For those heeding the guidelines — wear a mask, avoid travel to keep from spreading highly contagious variants, wait your turn for vaccination — the tangible rewards are debatable, when observing that others haven’t missed a spring break, a family gathering, a holiday celebration or a night out.
A prevailing “I got mine” attitude exists, with the floating-above-the-fray group blithely going about their business. Are they counting on the obedient or fearful among us to comply? What percentage of us needs to do so in order to kill the virus that has been such a killjoy?
Even as I write, news has arrived, direct from the CDC, that vaccinated people can begin functioning more normally once again. But the same authority — CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky — also advises no non-essential travel, due in part to the highly contagious B.1.1.7. variant that is present in at least 44 states.
Where does this leave us? Are those who continue sacrificing travel, socializing and lipstick merely rule-following suckers? Or are they saints, putting concern for others and respect for scientific guidance at the forefront?
Two analogies come to mind: doctors’ orders to complete a full course of antibiotics even if one is feeling better after a few days, and bakers’ knowledge that a fragrant, golden-topped cake isn’t done until the toothpick comes out clean.
Suckers or saints? God only knows.
Check out Time for Moore, Jane Turpin Moore’s blog, at https://timeformoore566445504.wordpress.com.