TWL: another 4 weeks gone by. What do we know, and what can we do?

We are certainly on a plateau–this week’s COVID caseload in the US matched last week.

The past four weeks of COVID-19 case totals in the US showed a 30% drop compare to the previous 4-week span. We’re back down to monthly levels of early March 2021, right as the vaccine was taking off for the under 50 crowd, right before the summer lull, right before Delta struck, right before we missed the 75% vaccination goal and the chance to end this mess.

Well, what’s different now compared to March? It seems Delta has burned through the unvaccinated population, the school year surge is behind us, and suddenly children can be vaccinated. Sure, the holidays are coming and some family-COVID-sharing will surely occur, but most of us are vaccinated and there is no new variant threatening us. As my mom would say (as she has insisted while I spewed doom and gloom), there is hope.

Here’s the four-week graph. Note the hopeful smaller bar to the far right.

Last week my husband got a text from a friend inviting us to come over for burgers and a fire on Saturday night. He mentioned another couple would be there. We like that other couple, and the friend and his wife wanted to show off their new house. Sounded perfect. I made cookies and painted my nails. I wore mascara! And my contact lenses. And I brought a blanket for the fireside chats.

When we arrived I thought we were at the wrong house. The driveway was full of cars. Nobody was outside. There were twenty unmasked people inside the house. We went in, for about 20 minutes, during which I panicked. I am very exposed at work. Though I’m vaccinated, I could carry and infect these fine folks. I had to get out of there. My husband said we could make excuses and leave. I opted for honesty, and told our host of my COVID anxieties. We went outside. They showed us the view, leaving their other guests inside. We built a fire and three of us sat outside shivering for an hour.

I am begging hosts to be up front when inviting people over. Tell them who is coming, how many, masks or not, inside or outside. Each guest must be able to assess their personal risk, and the threat they might pose to others. I made my husband reread and show me the texts inviting us to the outdoor fire and burger gathering to verify he had not misunderstood. He did not; the event was misrepresented to us.

I have not been to my writers group in months because I can’t expose these good friends. Some are older than I. Some are not vaccinated. I must stay away. But I miss them and our former carefree meetings in a tiny room reading and laughing, arguing and learning. Someday, I hope.


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