Holiday season

Facing another COVID holiday season

Although it’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year, the prevailing emotion as Christmas and New Years approach among Connecticutans seems to be, if not despair, then resignation. How, nearly two years later, are we still in the age of COVID? Will this ever end?

The latest twist is omicron, a variant of COVID-19 that could become the dominant strain in this field in no time, experts say. This follows delta, itself a more transferable version than previous editions, and portends a future of ever-changing and increasingly transferable mutations that will leave us in COVID limbo for the foreseeable future. Already, omicron is wreaking havoc in New York, and as we saw in the early days of the coronavirus – in March 2020, what seems like many lifetimes ago – what happens in New York will surely ripple through the Connecticut.

And so we see familiar scenes, the kinds of things that we might have hoped were a thing of the past. Schools are considering closing their doors. Sporting events postponed. Plans to return to the office suspended indefinitely. All this during the holidays, when many families get together (or want to). It’s like we’re stuck in an endless loop, where any good news related to COVID is only temporary, and a return to life without pandemic worry is forever distant somewhere.

This is the pessimistic take. But that’s not the only way to look at our current situation. Yes, this is serious, but we are not there at the end of 2020, although it may seem otherwise. So much has improved, though it’s easy to lose sight of all the paths.

The most significant change concerns vaccines, which only began to be administered a year ago. Now anyone 5+ can get one, and, to rephrase a point that’s been made many times before, you really should. They are no more foolproof than any other product of modern medicine, but every study, every expert shows that your chances of a bad outcome from COVID are greatly reduced by getting vaccinated. They are free, safe and widely available. Get the shot, and get your booster.

We are also better placed at school. Any parent could talk at length about the nightmare of the 2020-21 school year, with its constant in-and-out, hybrid, halfway schedule. This year, for the most part, classroom doors have been left open and officials have done a much better job of ensuring that missed class time is kept to a minimum. This is necessary not only for children, but also for parents whose jobs are not always flexible enough to cope with the demands of COVID.

Work has changed too – for some people. With working from home becoming more common, some companies have realized that flexibility is an asset worth preserving and plan to incorporate these changes into employee schedules in the future.

It is easy to lose heart. But history shows we could be in for a COVID-tinged future no matter what we do. It’s not just going to go away, so we have to find a way to live with it. This is the best we can hope for as the pandemic era continues to drag on.

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