There is such a thing as a reporter getting too close to a story and, alas, I have done that with COVID-19.
After 3 ½ years of reporting on the pandemic, I have finally had to face the dreaded pink line on my home COVID test. I got infected last week, presumably during a day in airplanes and airports on a long-delayed vacation. I wasn’t perfect in my masking and am paying the price, although years of boosting my immune system not through money-wasting supplements but through vaccines means that my symptoms have been very mild.
I’m not alone in getting COVID. Wh en I checked in with my doctor’s office to get Paxlovid, the two-medicine antiviral that can reduce symptoms if taken early enough, I was told they’d been swamped with such requests in recent weeks.
Scattered reports have emerged from a few schools in New Hampshire reverting to at-home classes during an outbreak and hospitals starting to require masks again. (Masks are still optional at Concord, Franklin and Laconia hospitals.)
As far as the data we follow at COVID Watch goes, last week the number of people in New Hampshire hospitals with COVID hit triple digits for the first time since late January, while the amount of SARS-CoV2 virus found in wastewater at both of Concord’s treatment plants has been going up steadily for months, as it mostly has in Boston’s wastewater system.
None of this is unexpected, of course. The assumption has been that COVID would become a seasonal virus like influenza, with a newly evolved variant showing up each autumn.
So far, this year’s fall surge is less than last year’s: There were 116 people in New Hampshire hospitals with COVID on Oct. 5, 2022, compared to 93 on Oct 5, 2023. And last year’s surge never got overwhelming as it had in years past, so hopefully a combination of boosters, medication and people not being idiots will keep it under control again.
As for me, my biggest complaint is that either the disease or the Paxlovid has left a bitter taste in my mouth, like I’ve been chewing on something rancid. I’ve heard of people losing their sense of taste from COVID but haven’t heard of this unpleasant phenomenon. Let’s hope it doesn’t last.