The Dark at the End of the Tunnel

I’m beginning to see the dark at the end of the tunnel. Life is not returning to normal. We will never eat out again without observing how crowded the room is. We will never get on a bus without a mask. Every sniffle or scratchy throat will prompt us to find a rapid test for Covid. A positive test will send us into isolation, a negative test will comfort us only until we reach for the rapid test again in a few days.

Our lingering winter weather has kept us from some of our normal springtime outings. I’m sure that’s affecting my mood. A tour of the shops of one of our nearby tourist towns is a frequent February treat. Not this year. Yes, the buds are swelling on trees in our next door park, but we haven’t walked past them as often as usual. But it’s March now. Time to get out and about. I think we can. I think we can. I think we must!

Meanwhile, a new publication from Cochrane, a highly regarded research  firm in the UK, assures us that masking to prevent the spread of Covid is useless. They say this even though two studies specifically related to Covid show a positive effect of masking. Other studies occurred prior to Covid and were crappy studies. 

Furthermore: I have proof that masks work. Yes, I do. And here it is: I live in a retirement community of nearly 500 residents. We have 200 staff people who come and go each day. Due to low rates of Covid, residents dropped their masks many weeks ago. Employees were required to continue wearing masks at work. All employees. All day. Every day. Residents could or could not wear masks, up to the individual. Activities had returned to normal, meaning lots of in-person meetings – instead of Zoom – in large rooms and small. 

Guess what happened? We slowly began to see cases of Covid, most contracted outside in the real world. Our Covid trackers didn’t see much passing from resident to resident. Until the Super Bowl. Can you imagine a more perfect setting for spreading Covid than Super Bowl parties. Bunching up on sofas, eating, cheering, spreading germs with abandon. We had grown so lax that our neighbors had parties here, or went out to party with family. And then we had an explosion of Covid cases within our community. But guess what. Staff were immune to all this. Yes, we had a handful of staff who tested positive, but just a fraction of what was happening with residents. How could this be. My guess is that masks work.

Fortunately, most of our neighbors have had mild cases of Covid, but at least four have been sent to the hospital. No deaths yet from this current outbreak, but it’s early days. It often takes a while to die from Covid. 

My advice. Continue to mask up in stores; avoid eating out with crowds; test early if you have symptoms so you can call your doc and get Paxlovid. Good luck.

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