If you’d asked me six weeks ago, I would have said we’re in for a pretty good summer and that we finally had the pandemic on the ropes. Vaccination rates were high, case counts were very low and dropping fast, and maybe, just maybe, we could get back to that normal life we’ve been dreaming about for over a year. But, as always, nature had other plans.
Connecticut is, for the second time, in the middle of a dangerous rise in cases due to a more transmissible variant of the COVID-19 virus. The first came in March, before large numbers of people were vaccinated. That was difficult, absolutely. But this spike, after so many of us have been vaccinated and the end seemed so tantalizingly close, just feels like cruel sarcasm.
I went through all the stages of grief with this wave. I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening, musing that those increased numbers were probably nothing worth caring about (even though I knew better). An upswing in cases and hospitalizations that looks just like the ones from September and March? It’ll be fine, don’t worry.
Then I got angry: how could all the people who aren’t ever going to get vaccinated do this to the rest of us? Of course, not everyone who isn’t vaccinated is in that position by choice. Some people are unable to take the vaccines for one reason or another, while some are unable to risk the side-effects when they have children to care for and jobs to go to.
But for all the people who believe in conspiracy theories about the virus, or think they’re too young and invulnerable to need it … yeah. I’m still angry. The most brilliant minds in the world came up with a miracle vaccine against a deadly disease that’s killed millions; for God’s sake, take it!
Anger doesn’t help, though. It doesn’t change any minds. It doesn’t even make me feel better. … Well, OK, it makes me feel a little better. But not nearly enough.
I may have done a little bargaining, hoping that if I just wore my mask and was super careful, I could still have a cool and relaxed summer. Right? Maybe we could do some fun things again, like go to the movies or eat in a restaurant, if we were careful? But … I know myself. I won’t be able to do those things without worrying.
That’s when depression set in.
Depression and I are old friends, we go way back. She’s been coming around a lot more since the pandemic started, but I’d been hoping she might finally take a break once things settled down a bit.
Now, though, I’ve been considering the possibility that we might not get out of the pandemic this year at all. We might have to face another brutal winter wave and pin our hopes on 2022. Even then, if things keep going like this, variants of the virus that are more resistant to the vaccines could appear thanks to the resistance to vaccination all across the country.
Maybe we won’t get out for another year, or two years. Maybe we won’t see the last of this disease until 2030. … Maybe it’ll be around forever.
I think sometimes that 2019 was the last good year, the carefree high-water mark of our civilization that we never knew was happening until it was too late. Is there nothing left for us but plague, storms, fire and rising seas? Am I going to live to see everything I love slowly and inexorably disintegrate around me? Gah.
I’m still working on acceptance. If you managed to get there, let me know how you did it. Better yet, tell my therapist.
What I don’t understand, though, is why the state isn’t taking this more seriously. Gov. Ned Lamont insists he’s not thinking about putting indoor mask mandates or capacity limits back in place, despite the rising risks and sluggish pace of vaccinations. It’s odd: the General Assembly extended his emergency powers for just this kind of crisis, didn’t they? Maybe he should consider using them.
In the meantime, we’re going to have to buckle down for another pandemic summer. Stay safe. Wear masks. Get vaccinated if you can.
Maybe that better summer is still out there, waiting for us to find it. Someday.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.