On March 12, 2020 we pulled the kids from school when we saw the red flags, and we sought out information about this mysterious virus circulating. We stayed home. We social distanced. Once we got some more data, we learned about masking. We canceled trips. We got our vaccines. The kids enrolled in vaccine trials. @cleverdevil and I enrolled in a booster trial. All of us got our boosters. We continue to mask indoors and even outdoors when there are large crowds. Lately we’ve weighed risks versus benefits. Our commitment has been to limit our role in continuing transmission and to avoid infection as long as possible. The more data that can be gathered before we get it, the better. Am I concerned that any of us will have severe active infection? Not really. Am I concerned that there is a lot more to Covid than just a respiratory virus? Absolutely. There is a lot of evidence that it is a lot more, especially with it affecting the vascular sysyem. Am I concerned about any of us getting Long Covid or Post Covid? Absoulutely. It would be life-altering.

At some point though, I had to accept that the majority of the US population does not have those priorities or concerns. Our only option was to accept that society wanted to get back to “normal,” and the option to keep our kids home was no longer feasible. Our rules became “Mask everywhere in public and when people come over to our house. Test before any longer gatherings when masking would be a hindrance. Test before traveling and upon return from traveling.” As Jonathan’s travel has picked back up for work, he has been incredibly accomodating by masking and testing for a few days upon return.

Here we are. Day 1009. Our first positive test, 9 days before Christmas. It was a calculated risk. We are not sure exactly where it got her, cheer practice or a day at Disneyland with her friend. Disneyland is easy to blame. Considering she is only one of 3 teammates who masks, and she practices in the same gym as several other classes and teams, cheer could been the place. It doesn’t really matter. It could have just as easily been school or a store, because we are the few that mask. As protective as our kn95, n95s, and kf94s are, they aren’t a guarantee. We would have more protection if a lot of others took the same precautions. I don’t think we can stop Covid from circulating, but I do think we can be more proactive.

I do understand that each person has their own level of risk tolerance. I think what is harder for me to understand is the risk that people are willing to accept for others. I know. I tend to put a lot of responsibility on myself to protect others. Sometimes too much. There are people out there who are immunocompromised and more vulnerable for a variety of reasons that are no fault of their own. Their risk calculations are very different, and they usually include taking on way more risk for severe outcomes or isolating themselves from society. We as their community members could make those risk calculations a little less concerning. What would it take? Masking, testing, and being fully vaccinated. Maybe throw in some good air filtration in there.

Obviously, my bias is big, but 3 of the 4 of those don’t really seem to have much of a risk to anyone. Sure you may be wary of the vaccines. Fine. There is plenty of evidence that the vaccines are safe. But I’ll accept that you see it differently. However, masking, testing, and air filtration? Why? What’s the refusal to do so? Is it cost? Is it uncomfortable? Are you worried about some sort of harmful societal change? Can any of your objections be solved by the government providing assistance? Or by supporting systemic changes?

I was talking to someone the other day. He had a little cough and sounded sick. He was not masked. He said, “Don’t worry. It’s not Covid. I just have a little cough and sore throat.” Did I flip on him? No. Did I think, “Um, I don’t care if it’s Covid or not. I don’t particularly want to get a non-covid cough and sore throat either.” Yes. Why won’t we accept the lessons that have been blaring in our faces? Why do we refuse to allow the pandemic to change us? Why can’t we accept the positive impact that experience could have on our society? We just want to get back to what is normal and comfortable.

What could we have fought for after seeing how the pandemic affected everyone? Smaller class sizes in schools Different educational options for different students Universal healthcare including mental healthcare Upgrading of requirements for public buildings, including schools, for clean air Debt forgiveness Employee benefits including sick pay Many other systemic changes due to seeing the huge disparity in who is most severely affected by the pandemic.

Do you know how many people across the US are dying from Covid each week? Do you care to know? Do you know if Covid hospitalizations are increasing this week? Do you know what ages the biggest increases are in? Do you care to know? Do you know how many people have had their lives turned upside down due to chronic illness after Covid infection? Would it make a difference to compare with flu hospitalizations and deaths? Do you care about preventing the flu after learning from the pandemic?

I think what I really want is for people to function as if we are in a Covid-affected world, not a Post-Covid world. We can’t just pretend it was a blip in our story. Yet, I am here hoping that my daughter’s current Covid infection is a blip in her health history, and not one that sticks with her for any longer than 5 days. Christmas is coming. I’d like to be imagining a world coming together to share peace and joy. I’d prefer not be experiencing hard evidence that the world isn’t so great at caring for each other. On the other hand, I guess that is the Christmas story. Christ was born to redeem humans. Seems like we didn’t learn much from the life he led.

Merry Christmas you filthy animals! And a Happy New Year.