Are you done with all those “best of” lists? Trying to analyze and put the last year in perspective? Pondering what you could have done differently?
We’ve been catapulted into 2022, ready or not. It’s hard to put the year behind us when a new variant makes it feel more like "Groundhog Day." I think what’s helpful is a look back at the last two years to contrast how much really has changed, and for the better.
In early 2020 the threat was just being recognized, and a total lockdown ensued. Masks were all we had at first. Little songs helped make sure that we were washing our hands for a full twenty seconds. Toilet paper (?) and hand sanitizer were hard to come by. So little was known that surfaces were suspect; some even wiped down groceries and anything else entering the house.
Masks are the most controversial, and unnecessarily politicized feature of Covid safety measures. They too were initially unavailable, especially the gold standard K/N95 so badly needed by healthcare workers. Ventilators, also in short supply, were the difference between life and death for many.
When humans retreated into their homes, the natural world came out to play. It underlined the toll of human activity on the environment. We also came to realize the accumulated stress of our busy lives.
Meanwhile, there was bread baking, WFH, Zoom, and schooling gone awry. We were banging or singing in support of health care workers. Restaurants died and take-out flourished; those that could adjust survived. Government supported the limbo with a cash infusion to stop the economic hemorrhage.
Anyone of Asian descent was a target for hate crimes as people looked for someone to blame. Domestic violence went behind closed doors. Mental health issues became another face of the pandemic.
Science, and the “standard of care” in medicine, is always changing - but this was science on steroids. Theories were floated and discarded (like blood type being a factor.) Some persisted with no evidence (the fertility myth). Strange phenomena like cytokine storms, myocardiopathy, long-haul Covid and children with a major inflammatory syndrome were puzzling. The elderly were especially hard hit, and the loss of family contact was heart-wrenching for them and others who died in the hospital. Yet slowly data began to emerge.
Meanwhile, there was the really great outdoors. People who could renovated their homes to adapt to changes in work and schooling. Others were "essential workers" paid minimum wage. Many embraced the freedom of working from home, but the downside was that work was ever-present. We had “pods” and socialized gingerly.
Covid cases and deaths were a new daily metric as variants came and went. Some people returned to work; others didn’t for myriad reasons. Anti-mask rallies morphed into violence at retail workers, airplane personnel, and public health agencies.
The big game-changer of 2021? The vaccines finally made a semblance of “normal” life possible. Developed for earlier coronaviruses, mRNA vaccines were deployed at lightning speed. While world-wide accessibility and acceptance remain problematic and give variants fertile ground to develop, we can imagine a more stable future. What else is there to be grateful for? There are now many more proven treatments and medicines for Covid once a case develops. And yet…
The start-stop is frustrating. Masks too have been on-again, off-again but are still one of the best ways to limit the spread of Covid. Testing availability has fluctuated with market demand. So, masks…
In 2020 I wrote a 12-week series I called the “Corona Care Kit” to help lighten the load and stay the course. Included were topics like play, movement, nature, and meditation. I’m going to be revising some of those for the same reasons I first wrote them; to get us through our “winter of discontent.” Spring will surely come, and we will be better.
Here’s to 2022...