I can be simple: “While the biological cause of covid is a virus, it only spreads because our social nature is embedded in us. There’s no cure for that, and if there were, it would be our end.” – X
I’ve taken each covid shot and booster as soon as it’s available. The science is clear: getting them reduces the likelihood of a more pronounced case if you get infected. We fought the same reluctance with the flu shot prior to covid’s arrival. Our contrary nature bedevils us, but it also keeps things interesting. I look at some people’s aversion to science or vaccinations differently than I once did. It’s not a question of intelligence; of that, I am completely sure.
It’s still true that a large number of people who are infected are asymptomatic. During the colder months, many people will think they have a cold or allergies. It’s often covid. Many people with symptoms ignore them – and that’s okay. Really. Whether they have misconceptions about the efficacy of covid shots, engage in conspiratorial theories about covid’s effects and origins, or simply see that it’s going to be around for a long time, it’s not irrational to feel that way. A lot of people just go on about life, and they either get better or don’t. We all rely on one another to keep each other safe, but our actions are always realized as individuals.
Studies that randomly test people reaffirm that at any given time, a lot of people test positive for covid whether they have symptoms or not. Each of these people comes into contact with hundreds of people daily, their spider web or potential exposures growing exponentially.
For most employers, masks have disappeared. In public? The same.
And that’s okay.
We are only as strong or as safe as our weakest link. That link? It’s all of us, unable to live our lives with love and seeing that we are so interconnected that any improvements or cures require all of us to actively work for it. We can’t even stop wars, so it’s no surprise that a medical emergency could have derailed us. Hell, we can’t even get a lot of people to use turn signals. On the other hand, the surprise of seeing where they decide to go at the last second is often a beautiful Pandora’s box.
Statistically speaking, you will be around many people who expose you to covid. There’s not much you can do. Knowing many people who undertook considerable change to limit their exposure – and got it anyway – I don’t want to sound like a pessimist. With covid, it’s obvious you can do everything right and still fail and get it. Watching people go about their day substantially proves we’re not doing everything right. Yes, that includes me, but I recognize my own grasp of known science compared to the practicality of attempting to limit a disease that lies at the crux of being social.
I had covid not too long ago, and then I got my fifth covid shot. Yesterday, I woke up to sniffles. I felt like a million dollars, which I characterize as feeling like I’m a human battery. I checked my temperature and found I had a fever. The sniffles worsened, so I tested after work.
Yes, covid positive again.
Maybe I shouldn’t have tested. Many don’t. It’s no worse than not testing regularly or having a nationalized system to randomly monitor unknown infections. I know how that sounds, written that way. But it’s a lesson I have learned pragmatically and in observance of a couple of years of real human behavior. I would not want to knowingly infect someone else. That recognition should be contrasted with people’s decisions not to get shots, or to test, or to attribute their symptoms (or lack of, for that matter) to allergies, a cold, or just feeling tired. Not everyone is lucky enough to work somewhere where they don’t lose a piece of their paycheck if they test positive. As for me, I’d much rather be at work, around people, and contributing. It’s certain that as covid continues, our policies will change as the cold compresses into smaller spaces sharing the same air. Practicality will bend policy, just as it did when covid jumped up and caught us unprepared. Lord, the things we did!
The psychology of people is what fascinates me. They worry about covid yet actively work and walk in public without masks, social distancing, etc. They grocery shop and attend events wherein large groups of people participate. Even if you are actively engaging in behavior that limits your exposure, it is a certainty that you are being exposed repeatedly. At work. At the convenience store. At the theater, sporting events, and concerts. If you’re not testing regularly, you may have had it and been an exposure yourself. Any behavior that puts you into contact with people is a potential exposure, not just the ones you know of due to a covid test. If you’re not testing regularly (which isn’t really practical on a national level), you’re only able to feel like you haven’t infected anyone simply because you are unaware.
In my case, I tested much more frequently than anyone else I know. Not because I was afraid of covid, but because I wanted to feel confident that I was not the source – and that it seemed like the right thing to do absent a system that encouraged all of us to do so. I did the best I could to cure my ignorance as to whether I might be spreading it. Because I sure as hell wasn’t limiting my social behavior as covid allegedly winded down. I hate sounding haughty or self-satisfied, but I do keep it in mind when I hear people express concern about getting it who didn’t take the time or money to test as regularly as I did during the bulk of the pandemic. Fear of getting it, a sincere fear, to me, means you’ll reciprocally do what is necessary to avoid being the one giving it. I wasn’t kidding when I say I don’t know anyone personally who tested more often than I did.
And that’s okay, too.
We’re social creatures. We hug, we eat, we touch. And we breathe the same air.
As for me, everyone who knows me well knows I am a world-class hugger. I can’t imagine a world wherein that wasn’t the case.
You can’t avoid covid. You are welcome to try.
I won’t complain as long as those who do remember that every single point of human contact is an exposure. There’s no practical way around it. If you are breathing their air, you are sharing all their invisible bacteria and viruses. It’s always been this way and obviously always will be.
We were lucky covid wasn’t the catastrophe it could have been.
As for me, I’m optimistic.
People’s behavior in the face of covid fascinates me endlessly.
I had the advantage of being in the medical hotseat when it blossomed. I watched as people verbally warred over its causes, its reality, and its treatment. Covid ended many lives prematurely.
At the center of it all is the fact that we are social creatures.
There is no cure for that. At least, I hope not.
Please don’t “at” me with anything other than an agreement that you understand that being around people is an agreement that anyone can have covid – or that you can, too, and not even know it. Short of locking yourself in a self-contained safe room in a contamination suit, you’re being exposed routinely. Even from those who’ve been fully boosted, from those who haven’t, and from those who look and sound perfectly healthy. You can worry about it all you’d like. But if you’re not in the aforementioned safe room by yourself, you are agreeing that being social is the risk you’re willing to take every day.
I don’t like the sexual analogies some use to compare covid. Sexuality is voluntary and expressed with one individual (Well, in most cases. Let’s not get crazy here!). You’re accepting the risk for yourself and responsible for your behavior. Covid is a disease that transmits omnidirectionally without other participants realizing it. That’s the social truth of these diseases. We rely on each other, just like we do when we drive the crazy streets with the assumption that the other driver is paying attention, not under the influence, and not ready to meet their maker.
All of us owe a huge debt to medical research and medical care itself. It’s easy to forget the pyramid of discoveries that have prolonged our lives. I don’t have to wonder ‘what if’ about the vaccines. I’ll never know. And I’m happy to be able to say that.
PS Remember that I’m not dead yet. I still have it penciled in for 2034. You’ll know it’s my time because I’ll probably be on the news: “local man dressed as a superhero can’t fly after all.”