The Bulkeley Bridge across the Connecticut River on Thursday, March 19, 2020
The Bulkeley Bridge across the Connecticut River on Thursday, March 19, 2020, during an extraordinarily quiet afternoon rush hour because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Doug Hardy / CTNewsJunkie
Susan Bigelow

Well, here we are at the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, and guess what? It’s over! We can all go back to our normal lives. Wow. That was a long time, but we’re done now. Thank goodness for that.

When this whole thing started back in March of 2020, I and pretty much everybody else thought it would be one of those deals where we all quarantined for a few weeks, and then the disease would pass and we’d be back to business as usual. Somehow, though, through seemingly endless waves and new, dangerous variants, the pandemic circled the world, then circled back, over and over again.

Not even the vaccines, miracles though they are, stopped the pandemic. Oh, they slowed it. They made life in Connecticut much, much safer than it could have been, and they protected countless people from severe disease or death. But the quick end we were hoping for last year never came.

I mean, not until now, of course.

There’s been so much I wanted to do. Maybe I’ll go see a movie or a hockey game before the season’s over. We can go out to eat without worrying or mix in with big crowds. Concerts, museums, fairs, and meet-ups are back in the green zone. I could travel. Airplanes! Buses! Trains! Let’s go, let’s go!

I was good the whole time. Wasn’t I? I stayed in, I kept my distance from everyone, I masked up and I got vaccinated and boosted. I admit to feeling a little sour toward all the people who weren’t doing those things. Didn’t they know this was about more than just keeping themselves safe? It was about protecting everyone else, too. How, I wondered, could they be so selfish?

Well, that’s all water under the bridge, now, because the time of masks, social distancing and vaccines is over. Masking in restaurants, businesses, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and libraries will soon go the way of a big corporation’s resolution not to donate to January 6th enablers. 

How are you going to spend your summer? I plan to sit around and not care about anything at all, because how about that? We actually got through one of the godawful, stressful, seemingly intractable crises dogging us since the beginning of the last decade. This is great! I mean, sure, we still have the rise of authoritarianism both here and abroad, the erosion of democratic norms, climate change, inflation, police violence, crippling student loan debt, mass shootings, rising inequality, gerrymandering, and the aftermath of a right-wing extremist insurrection to deal with, but scratch one off the list. Awesome.

Yeah, I’ve heard that there might be a variation of omicron that’s causing problems over in Europe, and even China is dealing with a resurgence of the disease. So far that wave hasn’t hit us yet, but cases aren’t exactly at zero here, either. Beyond the emergence of yet another wave, there’s still death and disease and the unknown effects of long COVID on human bodies and brains to worry about. But don’t you get it?

I’m tired. The pandemic was getting super boring and we all really wanted out. So guess what? We’re out.

That’s all it takes, apparently. Why didn’t we think of this before? Can we do this for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, too?

The government agrees with everyone being over the pandemic. Masks are becoming optional in just about every setting outside of health care, including schools, and an executive order requiring that state employees be vaccinated or tested weekly has been allowed to quietly expire. Even if cases, hospitalizations, and death come roaring back, there’s no way mandatory masking or vaccine requirements will return alongside them. Nobody wants to do that. It’s so annoying and inconvenient, and it makes us all feel lousy.

Who needs reminders of the fact that things aren’t normal, especially during an election year?

Anyway, I knew we could do it. Individualism and liberty have triumphed over a virus, just as we all knew they would. Our values, our determination, and our desperate need to be able to go to Denny’s without seeing anyone in a mask, saw us all through.

Congrats, Connecticut. Have a great summer. If you need me, I’ll be in a crowded room full of coughing people, breathing deeply of the air of freedom.

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Susan Bigelow

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 or any of the author's other employers.