If you took no precautions during COVID-19 and have mostly returned to normal, this article is probably not for you.
During one of the worst spikes in COVID-19, I fled to California. Several of my friends asked me why. My reason was simple. I didn’t trust any Americans to wear masks and social distance the way I trusted Californians.
They did not disappoint.
Even in rural communities, I saw people walking their dogs alone with their masks on. When the vaccine arrived, I didn’t know a single senior in the RV park who hadn’t gotten theirs. They also constantly checked on us few youngins to figure out whether we had gotten the jab and how we could get access.
When I moved to Mexico, I was once again in mask heaven.
It was an amazing contrast from a summer spent in Wyoming and rural Colorado where masks were few and far between. Mexicans wore masks while riding their bikes, buying groceries and walking into restaurants. As a high-risk person, I felt safe. No one I knew got COVID-19 for the entire duration of my stay.
But now, even Mexico has relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines. I am often the only masked person here and in U.S. areas where mask-wearing was usually the norm.
Americans have moved on from the pandemic.
A few weeks ago, I got into an argument with an idiot on Twitter.
One person shared that they had foregone several recent events to stay safe as an immunocompromised person. The idiot then tried to troll the person for prioritizing their health. I responded to them to say that it was crazy how people had simply moved on from the pandemic, but that I was still taking precautions. The idiot chimed in to share that she missed going to the clubs and she was ready to get back to her life. So, the rest of us needed to shape up and get with the program.
She is not alone in this sentiment.
From as early as March this year, the NY Times reported that only 44% of Americans were continuing to wear masks. The NY Times also called out the CDC for “authorizing” Americans to take fewer precautions.
Essentially, Americans have acted on the one cultural value the country shares across almost all demographics: idealism and endless optimism. Sensational stories in the media might have you guessing whether this is an accurate description, but if you pay attention to actual American human behaviour, you will likely agree.
Need an example? Do you remember my post in 2020 asking what kind of delightful recession we were in? The economy was crumbling under a global health crisis and people were buying brand-new vehicles and burning through the housing market. Who takes on new debt during economic decline or deliberately buys stock investors believe will fail? Why, Americans!
When Americans want a thing to be so, it is so because they have wished it. Nothing else matters. Facts be damned. Americans want the pandemic to be over―and so, just like that, it is.
But this time, they are not alone.
Seniors and high-risk persons continue to take COVID-19 precautions.
The NY Times article confirmed that persons who faced the greatest threat from COVID-19 continued to protect ourselves however we can. I have four heart conditions, so that includes me. Consequently, unlike most people my age, I did not simply return to regular programming. I have continued to take the same precautions I always have.
Every so often, someone asks on social media whether there’s anyone who hasn’t yet gotten COVID-19. And, if yes, how did we pull it off? That people continue to ask this question baffles me when science has already answered it. Those of us staying safe continue to wear masks, wash our hands, sanitize our spaces, and reduce physical interactions with people outside our safe bubble.
Can COVID-19 still get past all that? Yes. But, the likelihood is small. Most of the high-risk persons I know have never had COVID-19. If they did, I would probably be referring to them in the past tense.
We wish we had the privilege to move forward.
Pro-science seniors and people with comorbidities would love to join the crowd of people returning to normal, but we don’t have that privilege. Health―especially in America―is a privilege that not all of us can claim. So is wilful ignorance, which runs rampant throughout the country. But, I have no desire to be infected by that either.
That said, I can hardly call my post-pandemic life a sacrifice. I bought my RV during the pandemic and have been on the road full-time ever since. I have travelled across America and Mexico with my cat and have met amazing people along the way. My family has come to visit and I have visited them. I have enjoyed campfires by the beach and listened to the roar of the sea under a stunning sunset. I have hiked, biked, kayaked, painted and everything in-between.
There’s still a feeling of nostalgia for life without restrictions.
Recently, I came across a song that brought me back to my 20s. I remembered going to clubs on the beach. Going up to the balcony to stare out at the Caribbean Sea and sip my rum. I partied very differently from other people in my group, but I enjoyed clubbing by the beach all the same. I also thought back to rock concerts and music festivals in Atlanta. Being crammed against other people, while we belted out the lyrics to our favourite songs.
When would I ever feel safe enough to do those things again?
Probably not anytime soon.
It wasn’t a thought that had crossed my mind throughout the entire pandemic. But, it has crossed it now.
Yet, the truth is I stopped going to rock shows a year before the pandemic hit. And, I hadn’t been clubbing since I lived in Jamaica. It’s not so much the things that I miss, but rather, the freedom to do them. And so, while I have lost very little and gained so much, I nonetheless mourn the carefree existence we had before the ‘Rona came to stay.