Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Crystal Ball in the Corner Pocket

I suspect I’m doomed.

Well, that's probably a bit melodramatic. But there is a definite sense of “this isn’t going to end well and there is nothing you can do about it” in my life at the moment.

Here is the situation.

I work on a college campus. My various jobs all require me to work in close physical proximity to students. I see a lot of students, many of them for extended periods of time in small enclosed spaces.

The current omicron variant of the coronavirus is both remarkably contagious and fairly sneaky in that – at least in vaccinated people, for whom it is less severe – it presents with the same basic symptoms as everything else you normally get in the winter: sore throat, cough, congestion, and so on. Your basic common cold symptoms, in other words. Sometimes it even has no symptoms at all, but usually it looks like every January you’ve ever spent in school from the time you were still getting snack breaks and naptimes.

Students get colds. They come to class anyway, because there aren’t that many classes in a semester and it’s just a cold after all – that’s how things work.

Some of them actually do have colds. And some don’t.

So far this week I’ve had one student (with no visible symptoms) who spent half an hour with me in my tiny office email me later to tell me he had tested positive for covid. Another similar student had sniffles and a cough, and we discussed getting tested as well – a possibility that seems to have taken this student by surprise. These are bright, responsible students. And yet here we are.

I am vaccinated, boosted, and recovered from a diagnosed case of covid within the last 90 days, so under the current guidelines I only need to wear a mask when I’m around people and don’t need to go into isolation with every exposure. We have a mask mandate anyway, so everyone – including the students – is masked up all the time on campus. Compliance is pretty universal, for the most part – I haven’t had any troubles with anti-maskers trying to Freedom other people to death, anyway. We also have a requirement that students and staff must either be vaccinated or get tested weekly – which in practice mostly means vaccinated, since weekly testing is such a colossal nuisance that few are willing to stick to their ignorance and submit to the testing that often. Those who don’t vaccinate or test don’t get to sign up for classes next term.

So I’m about as protected as anyone can get in my situation.

And yet I know, with every fiber of my being, that I’m going to get covid again – probably sometime in late March or early April, when my 90-day “you’ve already had covid” warranty runs out. Evidence says that my vaccines will likely keep it from being anything too serious, for which I am thankful. But it’s going to happen.

There’s no real way to avoid it short of switching back to all virtual classes, and even if every scientist and medical person in the world stood on the hilltop and screamed at the top of their lungs that such a switch was all that stood between survival and the utter extinction of the human race, that wouldn’t happen. There are too many people in this country with a toddler’s grasp of liberty (DON’T WANNA! CAN’T MAKE ME!) for any sort of coherent or effective public health policy, let alone one that would require that level of sacrifice. And Americans as a group have effectively said that we’re tired of the pandemic and ready to move on to something else, such as either getting back to trying to overthrow the US government in order to install their favorite incompetent dictator, or trying to prevent same. We've pretty much decided that the pandemic is very much like the Vietnam War was back in the early 1970s – it’s no longer interesting, we’ve declared victory regardless of the situation on the ground, and we’re just going to get on with our own lives now thank you very much so you should stop reminding us about the bodies and go bother someone else.

So we’re pretty much doomed.

There is a part of me that finds this grimly humorous. I’m going to try to focus on that part for the foreseeable future and see how it goes.


LucyInDisguise said...

Is there a question in there? It kinda feels like there’s a question in there somewhere.

I really like the Vietnam War analogy, though. It works rather well, if, unlike most of your readers, one, having reached an age of awareness, actually lived through the period circa1968 - 1973.

(My specialty: torturing sentences so bad you have to read them six times to see if you can make any sense outta what I just said.)

However, I can find no fault with your analysis of the current situation. “We’re pretty much doomed.”

So, this is how the Human Race comes to an end. Not with a bang, but suffocating under the attack of a manageable if somewhat unappreciated virus.*


* I think appropriate apologies and acknowledgements to T. S. Eliot - The Hollow Men - are due.

David said...

One of my favorite memes that flew by me recently on social media was a photo of a pizza box with the preprinted warning, "Open Box Before Eating Pizza" and a caption that said, "We're not going to make it, are we?"

No, no we are not. Not with a bang but, as you said, from a manageable threat that people couldn't be bothered to manage because FREEDUMB. Sometimes I don't think the world will miss our species much.

I like to think that enough people have heard about Vietnam (from uncles or grandparents now) that the analogy still works, but I suppose it does work better if you've lived through the process. Thanks. :)