It’s been 632 days since the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. March 11, 2020, was the date, but I knew our lives weren’t going to be normal for a very long time as soon as I got back from the Conservative Political Action Conference in late February.
I’ve been lucky. I’ve been able to work from home. My husband has been able to work from home. Our teens did Zoom school for a while, but their schools reopened with testing and masking in place, and since they are teens, they all got vaccinated last year. Even before that, I was participant 1133 in the Pfizer trial, and my husband was a participant in the AstraZeneca trial. Our nuclear family has weathered the pandemic okay. But the novelty of pandemic life is wearing really thin.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me, it’s been a long 632 days. I've watched a lot of television: every episode of The Office in order, three times over; every Veep, four times; every Curb Your Enthusiasm, twice; and now my eldest son and I are watching Seinfeld from beginning to end. I’ve taken 511 Peloton cycling classes (thanks, I hate it). I’ve done 624 Zoom AA meetings. I’ve ordered lots of different cake products from Goldbelly. I’ve tweeted. I’ve written a zillion pieces. I even got a pandemic puppy from a dog rescue called Bald Is Beautiful. But now I’m really fucking ready for the goddamn pandemic to be over.
My parents and in-laws have suffered during the pandemic. They’ve stayed healthy by being largely isolated. The pandemic has made their lives really small. I think it’s been hard to know that you have a finite amount of time on this planet and you need to spend it locked inside your house.
And my oldest son had a very different high-school experience than he would have in normal times—still better than the 1918 flu pandemic, but hard and sad and painful in a way we don’t usually have to experience in modern life.
The right-wing media always accuses the left of wanting the pandemic to go on forever, but let me tell you, I want this fucking thing to be over so badly that I can feel it in the marrow of my bones. And that’s why the arrival of Omicron has been such a psychological blow.
We thought this thing was over, and then, all of a sudden—travel bans, people stuck in airports, and we’re back to obsessing about hospitalization numbers halfway around the world.
It’s too soon to know what is going to happen with Omicron. But the good news is that some early indications are that we’re going to be alright.
I have two doctors I bother a lot with my COVID anxieties. One is the wonderful Peter Hotez, from Texas Children’s Hospital, in Houston, who recently talked with me about the importance of vaccinating more people around the globe in an effort to slow the rise of new variants. Eric Topol, director of Scripps Research institute, also talked with me about Omicron, ultimately saying, "I remain optimistic.”
Optimistic? I’ll take it. What other options are there?
This morning, in his very good New York Times newsletter, David Leonhardt focused on the new COVID treatments that are coming soon, writing, “In the simplest terms, they can help turn Covid into a more ordinary respiratory disease, similar to the common cold or flu, rather than one that’s killing about 1,000 Americans a day and dominating daily life for millions.” There’s one good reason for optimism.
I will celebrate Christmas by taking my children to see their grandparents in California. I’ve been vaccinated and had my booster. My husband has had two shots of AstraZeneca and three shots of Pfizer. All of our kids are vaccinated. We’re going to mask up, but try to live as if we’re almost in the endemic stage.