Over or so they say. Is the pandemic really over? Really over? Should we keep asking or just breathe a sigh of relief, easier now since we’re no longer masked? We have been told that most of us can take off our masks in most places, but there are caveats. The vulnerable should remain masked. If you’re in a medical facility, you must wear a mask. Those are just a couple of the suggestions and restrictions that remain, prompting continuing questions.
More significant, are the latest numbers. As of March 7,2022, six million people have died globally from the coronavirus. S-I-X – million people. Those grim numbers were reported by the major networks during their nightly newscasts following reports on another grim story, Ukraine.
There are legitimate reasons for optimism. According to Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky the pandemic is not over but hospitalizations, cases and deaths have dropped. Walensky told CBS’ 60 Minutes that more people have been vaccinated. At this moment, there are no new variants on the horizon, or at least under the CDC’s microscopes.
“None of us know what the future may hold,” Walensky said. But what we may face are milder forms of the virus, requiring annual vaccines.
All 50 states have ended mask mandates. But, when I went to the grocery store after my governor said it was ok to remove my mask, I noticed that most of the people – customers and employees alike – remained masked. I noted masked men and women in a couple of other stores as well. Who do we trust?
The 60 Minutes report made mention of a recent survey which indicated that only half of Americans trust the CDC. Walensky did admit there have been communications problems. She also, rarely lamely I thought, talked about the problems of discussing science. Too often science is not exact, in other words, black or white. “Often times there are shades of gray,” she said.
The cynic in me wonders if the lack of trust has been caused by a couple of other elements. In the beginning, I wonder if the scientists knew what they were dealing with. A doctor I know cautioned me to take precautions because the medical world did not know what to make of the coronavirus or its variants. She turned out to be correct. Can government officials say – “I don’t know” – and get away with it in a politically charged environment?
Secondly, I wonder what would have happened if the coronavirus had not been such a political issue for warring factions between and within the political parties. I do not know the answer to either of those questions.
I do believe we are at the tail end of the pandemic. I will continue to take precautions, though. If a vaccine is offered next fall, hey, I will bare my arm along with my now bare face, which is exposed.