Navigating life in a pandemic is confusing. There has been a lot of mixed messaging. To say the least.
In the beginning, we could all pile into a Lowe’s, Target or Publix together, but couldn’t patronize a local dress shop. We were told we didn’t need to wear masks for a hot minute, but then were told they were mandatory.
Now our kids can’t go to school, but they can play sports. Or they couldn’t go to school in April when the numbers were not even close to what they are now, but now it’s fine to go back in August. Alabama’s ABC Board says we can go to a bar or restaurant and drink, but only until 11 p.m. Because everyone knows the ’rona only comes out after midnight, right?
Some of these contradictions are borne out of new research and simply out of more time spent studying and learning about a virus no one had ever dealt with before. And also just having the time to put smart policies in place so we can continue to live our lives but in a more careful, thoughtful manner.
Some decisions are being made by weighing the health risks against the potential economic devastation shutting down something entirely could cause. And some of these err way more on the side of health and some err way more on the side of economics. And it’s hard to know who is right and who is wrong, if anyone. There are valid arguments to be made on all “sides” of this.
This is not easy. I don’t envy anyone charged with making these tough decisions.
But it all just seems so arbitrary, and there are too many different regulatory agencies or governing bodies setting the rules — state and local governments, boards, school systems and individual private schools, associations, and on and on.
Complicating this further is how political this has become. Wearing or not wearing a mask has become the ultimate political statement, especially for the fringy folks. Thankfully, most of us in the middle do our best to just act like reasonable human beings. We aren’t screaming at Costco employees for infringing on our rights nor are we riding around in our cars by ourselves completely masked up just to virtue signal.
But also, it’s just because this virus is so strange. It picks winners and losers.
For some reason, I have been thinking a lot about the post-apocalyptic movie “A Quiet Place” as it relates to these times. Not that we are in the midst of an apocalypse — at least I don’t think we are — but just some of the other similarities.
It stars John Krasinski (Jim from “The Office”) and his real-life wife, Emily Blunt. In this film, the world has been taken over by an invisible predator that only responds to sound. Jim, Em and fam are pretty safe when they are on “lockdown” in their house. But when they have to venture out for “essentials,” they have to take all of these extra measures and precautions to protect themselves — no masks required, but they do have to walk on sand. But if they made one small mistake — one single sound — they were done, dead, gone. Eaten by an alien.
In a strange way, we are lucky we have the luxury to even argue over this. If everyone who caught COVID-19 knew it was a certain death sentence, we wouldn’t even be discussing the merits of masks or if it is safer to drink in a bar at 10:59 p.m. than at 12:01 a.m. No one would leave their house until a vaccine was on the market.
And I know it is scary for the folks who are pretty certain it is a death sentence for them. I can’t imagine how stressful and emotionally draining that must be.
But because it affects people so differently (from no symptoms at all to mild to moderate sickness for a week or two to death) it opens up this space for debate. Which is beyond tiresome, too.
How many of you have heard all of these statements uttered by someone you know? (Full disclosure, I am guilty of uttering at least one of these myself.)
“My friend had it and she said it was the worst she has ever felt ….”
“Well, my friend said it was no worse than a sinus infection .…”
“This girl I worked with never had a single symptom but tested positive for EIGHT weeks! It was the craziest thing!”
“My friend who works at the hospital says they have gotten much better at treating this and it’s not as big of a deal anymore .…”
“My friend who is a nurse/doctor/has a neighbor who is a nurse/doctor says it’s just terrible right now .…”
So much mixed messaging. No wonder we are all over the map. And going kind of crazy.
But I do believe we are all just trying to do the best we can. And one day in the not-too-distant future, when a vaccine is available, we will all burn our masks together and dance around naked under the full moon. (OK, maybe not naked, considering the “quarantine 15” many of us have packed on.) But we will forget what a confusing time this was. Or maybe won’t.
But still, it is better than being eaten by an alien. That is the one thing I am certain of these days.
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