Nobody cares about COVID where I live

In November my wife asked me if I had seen an article with the noteworthy headline, “Is It Safe To Go To Thanksgiving Dinner?”

“Is that from last year?” I asked.

“No, it’s a few days old,” she said, her voice turning into a growling murmur. “This People. “

I’m old enough to remember the good old days when vacation advice was all variations of “How to Talk to Your Tea Party Uncle About Obamacare”. As Christmas approaches we can look forward to more such things as metaethical speculation has advanced to an incredibly baroque stage of development. Can our 2-year-old son hug Grandma at a Christmas party if she received her booster vaccination just a few days ago? Should the toddler wear a mask unless they are spreading mashed potatoes over their booster seat? Our eldest ended up attending her first (masked) night with other fully vaccinated 10 year olds, but one of them had a positive sibling test at daycare. Should she stay at home or wear a face mask? What about Omicron?

I don’t know how to phrase it in a way that doesn’t sound frivolous: nobody cares. I literally know this is not true, otherwise the items would not be commissioned. But outside of the world, which is inhabited by the professionals and executives in a handful of large metropolitan areas, many, if not most, Americans are living their lives as if COVID was over, and has been for a long time.

In my part of rural southwest Michigan, and in similar communities across the country, this is not true in spite of, but noticeable, consideration of cases; Hospital admission stats, which are always high this time of year without attracting much attention; or death reports. I don’t want to deny the continued presence of COVID. (For the purposes of this article, I looked up the COVID data for my county and found that the seven-day average for positive tests is higher than ever, and there have been 136 deaths from the virus as of June 2020.) What I want to convey is that the virus is simply not taken into account in my calculations or in those of my neighbors who have done without masks and tests (unless work forces them to, then they are dismissed by humans like the usual BS resources) and other tangible signs of COVID-19’s existence for months – maybe even longer.

Indeed, in my case when I say for a long time, I mean for almost two years, almost from the start. In 2020 I attended two weddings, traveled a lot, went on family vacations with my children, spent hundreds of hours in bars and restaurants, all without a mask. This year my wife and I welcomed our fourth child. In the course of her pregnancy, from the first call to the midwife a few months after the positive pregnancy test to the delivery, the virus was not raised by any medical professional, not even by her doula, a dear friend from New York.

Meanwhile, our children, who have continued to attend their weekly homeschooling partnership since April 2020, have never worn masks and feel free on the rare occasions when they see them, for reasons that until recently child psychologists and other medical experts would have admitted freely. They continue to meet up with friends and family, including their great grandparents, on a weekly basis. As far as I can tell, they faintly know that “germs” are a distant cause for concern, but only our elder, who is 6 years old, remembers the short time last year when our diocese held public masses and we spent Sunday morning praying the rosary at home.

The CDC recommends that all adults receive a booster vaccination; I don’t know a single person who’s got one. When I read headlines like “Who Might Need a Fourth Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine”, I really waver. Wait, is it four now? I would be lying if I said that I know all the variants or what the differences are. (They all sound like the newest entry in a seedy action franchise: Tom Clancy’s Delta variant: A Jack Ryan novel, Transformers 4: Rise of the Omicron.) COVID is invisible to me, except when I read the news when it hits me with all the weight of reports of distant coups in Myanmar.

Granted, my family’s 2020 experience was a bit unusual. But I bet that I am now closer to most of my compatriots in America than to the people who are almost absurdly over-represented in the media and elite institutions and who are still seriously concerned about this virus. And in some ways, my situation has always been more of an American’s typical pandemic experience than someone in New York or Washington, DC or Los Angeles.

The best example of this fact, aside from the hate speech about vacation travel, is outdoor masking. Aside from asking if there was ever conclusive evidence of outdoor transmission, I’d like to point out that until I was on a work trip to Washington DC in March, I had never seen anyone outside wearing a mask. For someone who had never worn one in any situation, it was bizarre to find thousands of people indifferently putting these garments on outdoors, including those walking alone or in pairs at night after leaving bars or restaurants where they probably had them undressed. It was even stranger to see people recognizing each other in the street and casually pulling their masks off, sometimes but not always before they stopped engaging in conversation, like Edwardian gentlemen taking off their top hats.

I left this experience with the impression that masks, regardless of their value, have long since passed public health and become a symbol, not dissimilar We believe in this house Signs or MAGA hats. This is undoubtedly why in my part of America the only people you ever see with masks, brooding teenagers sitting alone in coffee shops, seem to have adopted the masks to break away from the reactionary banality of life in overflight land take off just like I once scribbled anti-Bush slogans on T-shirts. Surviving this old-fashioned youth fear is definitely deeply encouraging.

As for my wife and I, an atmosphere of bigotry hinges on relentless adherence to CDC guidelines. By European standards, wrestling hand over masks in schools is just as silly and absurdly risk averse as the insistence of the American medical establishment that pregnant women not drink coffee or wine. In fact, there is something small-minded, Puritan, and definitely American about the whole thing about obsessing over vaccinated teachers taking off their face-covering during a long day at school. (When I read things like that, I experience the same second-hand embarrassment that I felt when I saw an American tourist in Rome ask a waiter in a trattoria to remove the ashtray from the outdoor table where the employee concerned had just smoked.)

I’m always tempted to ask people who are breathlessly quoting what various health authorities are now saying about masking and boosters if they know how the National Institutes of Health define a “problem drinker”? The answer is a woman who drinks more than one “unit” of alcohol a day, that is, my wife and almost all of my friends. When asked, the same authorities would likely say that with the consumption of crudos or kibbeh nayyeh, or taking Tylenol after a hangover. (Not to mention cannabis, which of course is still banned at the federal level.) My point is that discerning adults are generally able to wink with guidelines that are too strict. In the case of COVID, many are not.

I wish I could convince myself that once in my life with COVID we actually had a healthy break with the usual pattern of getting the latest silly novelties – flawless divorce, factory sliced ​​bread, frozen meals, and so on – of course Infant Formula – Are enthusiastically embraced by the upper middle class, who then think better of them when the lower classes emerge.

But I fear that the future, at least in the big metropolises, is one in which the elites will sooner or later recognize their folly and continue to impose it on others. In any case, I would not be surprised if in New York and California it was expected for years to come that even vaccinated service workers would wear masks, the ultimate reification of status in a world where casual clothing has otherwise wiped out what was once our most visible Marks of class were.

After all, you never know how they spent their Thanksgiving.

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