My little dog Vic loves the pandemic. He would love to draw it out as long as possible. It suited him fine when my husband and I were working from home full time, staying home at night and picking up dinner instead of going out.
Here we go again, and he is totally fine with it, not concerned in the least that new variants of COVID-19 are not only alive and kicking, but more contagious and more deadly than the original virus. He’s a dog and doesn’t understand that hospitals are full to capacity and the National Guard is, well, guarding them because of the state of things. Medical staff on the front lines are weary, broken and exasperated.
Yes, we are having breakthrough cases; folks are contracting the delta variant even though they are fully vaccinated. But they rarely go beyond Stage 1. The other stages include a feeling of drowning, intubation, a ventilator and chest tubes. And children, who can’t get vaccinated if they are under 12, count for 25 percent of the new cases. This terrifies me.
If we can achieve population immunity, also known as herd immunity, we’ll have indirect protection supposedly. We can get that without being vaccinated; if this coronavirus spreads through the all of the population, that should do it. But what that would leave in its wake is unfathomable to me. We can also achieve it through vaccination, something the World Health Organization recommends.
I’m vaccinated, and so far I haven’t contracted COVID-19. Lots of folks I know have, and most all of them are okay. Some have no souvenirs of the virus, but others do. Some have dramatically reduced lung capacity, and that’s concerning. According to the Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 can damage the heart muscle, even in mild cases. And it can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
This virus seems to be doing more than physical harm. It’s dividing us into two camps: the vaxxed and the unvaxxed. And those labels define us to some. Fury abides on both sides, and folks lash out on social media against the camp on the other side. Parents who have raised children together and sat in the bleachers cheering for each other’s kids are in separate camps. Folks who have spent decades together on the tennis court or side-by-side in yoga class or carpooling each other’s kids all over the city are in separate camps. Nothing else seems to matter, and we say hurtful, harmful things that are generalities.
We’ve lost a bit of ourselves along with everything this virus has taken. Many of the folks who are not vaccinated are people I hold deep in my heart. I love them. Yes, I want them to get vaccinated because I can’t bear to think of how COVID-19 could ravage their bodies. But screaming at him or her or them does nothing to further my cause.
Unlike my dog, I’m ready for this to be over. There was a brief little window earlier this summer when I didn’t wear my mask. When I didn’t worry my mother would get COVID-19, when I didn’t freak out when my autoimmune-compromised husband had an appointment with someone who didn’t wear a mask, or when my granddaughter wasn’t her perky little self. We’re back where we were before, only this time with the National Guard at the hospital entrance.
Yes, it’s frustrating. But the bottom line is that we are “bound together in a common life,” as it so beautifully says in “The Book of Common Prayer.” “Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect,” the prayer continues. That’s the part I need to remember. And I pray for my unvaxxed beloveds, that they will be safe from all harm. Because I couldn’t bear it if they weren’t.
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Ferris Robinson is the author of three children’s books, “The Queen Who Banished Bugs,” “The Queen Who Accidentally Banished Birds,” and “Call Me Arthropod” in her pollinator series “If Bugs Are Banished.” “Making Arrangements” is her first novel. “Dogs and Love - Stories of Fidelity” is a collection of true tales about man’s best friend. Her website is ferrisrobinson.com and you can download a free pollinator poster there. She is the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror.