Remember back in 1870 when we rode in horse-drawn carriages and wrote letters with quills and the coronavirus pandemic started? We said stuff like, “If we get through this year, it’ll be a miracle!” And we made bread and wore stretch pants, which was cute for a bit.
Not anymore! Each morning, my eyes pop open and I ask the heavens: Is this a tickle in the back of my throat or a breakthrough case? Who is going to die today who didn’t have to?
What plans require a risk analysis? Are the kids safe? Which friend will issue a disappointing social media screed? Should I open the internet or stick hot needles under my fingernails?
We’ve entered a new echelon of despair, different from 2020. Hope loomed then, the promise of a scientific remedy. And vaccines arrived. Remember waking up early to get an appointment? Remember the people who stood in line, hoping to get an extra dose?
Maybe we could stop sorting laundry into socks, underwear and masks. Maybe we could retire “another grim milestone.” Maybe we would never attend another Godforsaken Zoom baby shower. Patty still does not know how to mute!
Yet here we are at another grim milestone. The Delta variant is walloping the country. In states like Florida and Texas, leaders issue edicts against safety. More children are being hospitalized, coinciding with the start of school.
This new anxiety? It comes when the test is open-book, but we would rather fail.
If you get by with a little morning existential dread, like me, congrats. Think of the hospital workers bagging bodies or listening to people deny reality on deathbeds. Think of those with serious mental illness.
Vaccine holdouts cling to an obsession with being judged. The “can’t we all just get along” sentiment is empty, like rejecting public health measures is the same as ordering a burger medium-well. They think positivity and optimism will end this.
Jeezum Crow, optimism is low. There’s a small reserve, the one for emergencies in the coin pocket.
It’s too late to stop this wave, but not the next. People are coming around. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccinations have increased by about 70% nationwide. There’s a way to go, but this is the way. We still have to believe.
If you changed your mind, thank you, thank you, thank you. If you’re still on the fence, it’s not too late. Get really honest, sleep on it, let your eyes pop open and see what happens.
— Stephanie Hayes is a columnist at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. Follow her on Twitter: @StephHayes and Instagram: @StephHayes. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.