If you’re reading this after the newsletter landed in your inbox, I will have been vaccinated for about two hours. Woo-hoo! Unfortunately, since I wrote this Monday NH’s COVID numbers haven’t improved; in fact, the number of people in the hospital jumped yesterday. Ugh.
Lately, an almost-forgotten emotion has been returning: Optimism. Along with another blast from the past: Impatience.
The optimism comes, of course, from the vaccine rollout, which is picking up steam. The state will release updated figures Tuesday, but already roughly one out of every nine adults in New Hampshire has been fully vaccinated.
With the start of Phase 2A – covering teachers and childcare workers – and the arrival of one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that percentage will keep rising more quickly.
It’s only a cautious optimism, however. As you’ll see in the numbers below, our progress against COVID-19 has stalled in the past week despite the vaccines, with the number of new cases and hospitalizations both plateauing.
And people keep dying, one or two of them every day. This week the total death count will pass 1,200, which is more than the population of Danbury. In other words, COVID-19 has killed the equivalent of an entire New Hampshire town and it isn’t stopping.
What’s causing this pause in what had been two months of improvement? Perhaps it reflects the arrival of more contagious variants, perhaps it’s people starting to relax their guard, perhaps it’s warm weather letting us get out and spread contagion.
Which leads to my second point: impatience.
I’ve had a pretty easy pandemic. I kept my job, nobody I know has gotten really sick, and my life was boring anyway. It’s been easy for me to stay calm, even phlegmatic, in the face of the pandemic.
But suddenly, I’ve had it. Perhaps it’s the weather or the one-year anniversary of the lockdown or just time passing, but whatever it is, I can’t wait to get back to normalcy.
Working all day in my “home office” (much more professional than “former kids’ playroom”), never going to the movies or bars or eating in restaurants, wearing that stupid mask when shopping – ugh. I am ready to be done with that.
But I’m a responsible grown-up and I know that my irritation doesn’t change reality. I can’t wish the SARS-CoV2 virus away. I also know that staying the course, no matter how frustrating, is the only way that we’ll really get back to normalcy.
So I’ll keep ordering take-out and watching movies on TV and writing stories in the playroom – er, office – until we’re really in the clear.
A few more months, folks, that’s what it will take. Hang in there.
Some old maxims could be stretched to apply here: like “penny wise, pound foolish” meaning a small moment of pleasure like going unmasked to a restaurant, weighed against the long term goal of staying healthy and helping others stay that way too. Or (esp for females) “a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” suggesting that small fun moment of socialization could lead to really dire results. But they’re not quite right. What is the maxim we need in this time, when the long term goal is in sight but feels so far and so hard to wait for? Sports metaphor? Third and goal? We need something to chant to ourselves.
Clearly we’re not out of the woods on this pandemic yet. And with the arrival of new variants of the virus, things may get worse before they get better. Yet I keep having conversations with people who say they’re being careful, avoiding crowds, etc. but NOT getting vaccinated. This worries me. We need a large percentage of our population to get the vaccine in order to achieve “herd immunity”. In the end, the message “I’m being careful so I don’t need the vaccine” feels selfish. We need to get everyone possible vaccinated.
P.S. I just read that “Brooks earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics…” So did I…3x4x5 years ago!