READ ME!!! COVID-19 Update: Pandemic No More?
Welcome to Year 3 of the pandemic! We all remember the fateful day of Friday, March 13, 2020 like it was yesterday. The last day of in-person anything for months (or years), of real “normalcy”, whatever that means anymore. Fast forward two years. There’s a war across the Atlantic, displacing millions of refugees into neighboring countries and beyond, just in the United States nearly a million people have died from COVID-19, there’s yet another variant of this virus that’s caused a global pandemic for the past 2 years coming our way, and with all of this, people everywhere are just beyond burned out. Are we really surprised?
Just a couple months ago, it seemed like a return to normalcy was somewhat possible. COVID-19 cases were down again after a surge caused by the omicron variant. During this brief relief in the new year, when it looked like the pandemic really could be behind us, most school systems began to lift mask mandates and many employers started requiring employees to return to the physical work space, which took effect the past couple months. The federal government will ask the majority of its employees to return to the office by April 2022 unless you’ve provided justification and have received approval to continue to work remotely. You can imagine with the sheer number of federal employees in this area, this will cause a major significant increase in traffic on the roads and on public transportation. Don’t be surprised if your commute starts to get longer this month!
However, will this trend of no masks and returning to the office in-person continue into the fall and winter? With the omicron subvariant starting to drive up COVID-19 cases again in the United States, various institutions and cities have begun to reinstate mask mandates. Many people have continued to wear theirs anyway as a precaution, so the mandates returning may not affect as many of you. Admittedly, it’s been nice to not wear one in the gym! As an added precaution, a second booster shot was approved for those 50 years of age or older or immunocompromised individuals. Dr. Fauci expects that we’ll all need another shot this fall, soon to become a yearly event just like the flu shot. I think by now we know to enjoy these phases of low-caseloads and lifts of mask mandates while you can. Come fall, things may be looking a lot differently from now.
In the meantime, make sure to continue to wear your masks in crowded places (including most public transportation) and order your free COVID-19 test kits. Testing frequently, masking, and vaccinations have been proven to be the only real defense mechanisms we have against COVID-19 these past two years.