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    Local Columns
    Tuesday, August 16, 2022

    We are in COVID denial

    I was in a big box store recently when I overheard two women shoppers greet one another in passing.

    “I’ve got COVID,” one of them said, giving her friend a passing personal news update, as she bustled down the aisle. “I’m burning through it.”

    “That’s what you’ve got to do. Good luck,” her friend answered, hurrying away in the opposite direction.

    Of course the woman, who was burning through her COVID-19 during a shopping trip at a crowded store, wasn’t wearing a mask.

    Honestly, who wears masks anymore?

    Wearing one recently, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, after five days of isolation for a positive test, I sometimes felt like a freak, given the quizzical way people looked at me.

    I heard one plane passenger on a recent flight requiring masks complain out loud when asked to comply: “Aren’t we done with that?”

    It certainly feels like we are done with masking and precautions, even though COVID-19 is very much still with us.

    The official numbers of course are high right now, with 312 hospitalizations and eight deaths reported in Connecticut in a recent week of reporting.

    But with home testing and symptoms less severe because of widespread vaccinations, COVID-19 seems to be going underground.

    How many people do you know have recently had it?

    I know quite a few, including my immediate family, and none of us was part of any statistics, after testing positive at home and recovering on our own. Indeed, I’ve known many more people who have tested positive recently than during the height of the pandemic.

    The fact that President Joe Biden tested positive this week was almost a yawner in news cycles. Of course there was chatter on right-wing radio, where it seems everything is a conspiracy theory, that maybe he faked his positive test.

    Honestly, they spent a lot of air time discussing that possibility, trying somehow to tie Biden’s alleged fake positive test to inflation.

    My, how our perceptions of COVID have changed in such a short time, largely due to the safety net of vaccinations, which are keeping us from getting really sick.

    Remember when the nation was gripped by the drama of former President Donald Trump hospitalized in the height of the pandemic? Who can forget the corny, staged ripping off of his mask on the South Portico after his return to the White House?

    Biden, we are told, is working in seclusion, holding meetings on Zoom.

    The scientists tell us that we are still years away from COVID being endemic, the kind of infection we can safely shrug off, like a cold. Worse, the virus is not done mutating and getting smarter, becoming more contagious and less likely to be stopped by vaccination or antibodies from previous infections.

    Meanwhile, as we suppress the reality of an ongoing health crisis, we are passing it among ourselves, mostly because we are tired of all the preventive precautions.

    We are all largely burning through it, often ignoring CDC guidelines for isolation and masking after testing positive. Surely some people are not testing at all, happy to not know what those symptoms really mean.

    Maybe not forever, but COVID is going to be with us for a long while, and it’s not such a pretty prospect.

    Despite vaccinations and boosters and doses of Pfizer’s new wonder COVID-busting drug, Paxlovid, I had a pretty unpleasant bout that I’d just as soon not repeat.

    Forgive me if I give you a few feet of healthy distance next time I get within a breath’s distance. Please don’t take it personally.

    It’ still with us.

    This is the opinion of David Collins.

    d.collins@theday.com

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