I haven't written about the pandemic in awhile, and honestly, I'd rather not. But I've had some things on my mind and I need to expunge them so I can free up some brain space for something else.
The story locally is improving, with our infection rate (R0) the lowest it has been since February, a little below 0.9. Unfortunately that's not as reassuring when there are more cases in play, because our daily count in Orange County is still four times higher than it was at the start of June. Anything below 1.0 at least means that it's not exponential. When we do go out into the world for things, people generally seem to be playing along with the cultural norm, masks and reasonable distancing and such. Personal behavior I've observed (mostly via Facebook) is not very consistent, so I'm not sure what to expect, especially with some kids going back to school. My concern is that people will get complacent because they still don't understand that exposure risk is a combination of duration, current infection rates coupled with case counts and environment. Things are still far worse than they were in May and June, but we can still do stuff if we continue to mitigate. People in rural areas are still, apparently not rolling with that reality.
That's probably the biggest surprise, is that with adjustments, you can still do stuff. I mean, Disney seems to have figured out how to open the parks without being unsafe. It seems like a terrible experience, with the masks and plexiglass everywhere, but it is safe. Unfortunately, the things that we enjoy the most are pretty much going to be among the last things that we can go back to, including live theater, cruising and me going to New York for work. OK, the last one hasn't even been a thing yet, but right now there are no plans to open the office back up in One World Trade Center. Who knows when Broadway will come back.
I've had enough friends get sick at this point that I'm pretty sure I want to work extra to avoid it. It's not even that Diana and Simon are high risk, it's that perfectly healthy low risk people are on their backs for three to six weeks. I can barely deal with three days of conventional flu, but all of this other bullshit that comes with Covid is pretty terrible. A friend of mine up north was basically down for three weeks with a mix of symptoms, then another three weeks of constant fatigue, headaches and a GI that was in constant distress. I haven't known anyone personally die, but so far one friend lost his father, another lost one of his local police officers and a school athletic director.
The thing that makes me the most sad isn't even the relative isolation and halt to our favorite activities. It's the respect that I've lost for so many people that I thought were... better. Nobody wants this, obviously, but by observing the gathering evidence that shows us how to mitigate the spread, we can in fact limit the damage to each other and the economy. It still won't be normal, but we can keep it from being a catastrophe. Yet, some people don't want any part in being logical or listening to experts. They honestly believe that the gradual understanding by experts is itself a failure, and after all, they can Google things and know better. I don't even understand how anyone can make it political. A virus doesn't see party lines, but as we head toward 200,000 dead, there are still some who believe none of it is real. If it were a person causing the deaths, imagine how differently they would react. It's always easier when you have someone to blame.
We've had some solid and respectful discussion about this on CoasterBuzz of all places. One of the things that comes up every few weeks is someone from the above category, and they insist with all of the big dick energy they can muster that they're not going to fear this. It's an odd choice of words. I don't fear a bus, but I'm not going to step in front of one. In Covid times, I'm not going to enter a sauna with ten strangers, for my safety and their own. I'm not afraid of the sauna or the people, I just know that, based on objectively observable evidence, that it's a bad idea. You're not less of a person or a coward because you can identify a risky behavior and avoid it. But these are the same idiots who were chest thumping about getting a haircut (and conveniently complaining about public protest weeks later).
As for us, yeah, psychologically there are certainly some challenges. July and August are shitty months to be outside doing stuff anyway, because that's our "winter" here in Central Florida as far as I'm concerned. By the end of June, I was content to be inside. But what I miss is having parties, friends coming in from all over the country to visit (mostly theme parks, but us too), and of course the aforementioned cruises. We were supposed to go to Alaska this summer, host friends from Norway and have an epic summer party. But even the simple things, like date nights and meeting up with a friend or two at a resort bar, it's weird to not have any of that. School is the new challenge, and we're only two weeks into that.
So here's to hoping that these vaccine trials are yielding positive results, and the investment to mass produce them actually works out. I can suck it up and deal with the weirdness for another four to six months, but beyond that, it's going to get harder.
This won't last forever, treat your sadness with a smile
We can't have what's next 'til we hang inside for a while