Here we are again…

No, this isn’t a map from last year at this time. It’s based on COVID data from July 2021.

It’s been more than 500 days since #COVIDchaos changed our society forever. The pandemic hit us like a freight train in March 2020. Schools were shut down. Remote work became a reality. Movie theaters sat vacant. Salons, gyms, museums were temporary closed. Weddings, conferences and even family gatherings were cancelled. Travel plans postponed.

Mask mandates began in the spring and summer and we naively thought it would be over soon. The school year began with hybrid or remote options, delayed starts and temperature checks. Masks became a required school supply along with pencils and paper.

We made it to November before everyone moved to full remote school. Remote learning continued until February, when our district moved to 5-day in person school.

By mid-March, things looked more and more like the “before times” (before COVID). We took our annual ski trip. We had prom, sports and graduation. Things seem to be looking up. Free vaccinations became available for people aged 16+, and soon it extended to anyone aged 12 and up. It seemed we might be turning a corner. People seemed happier. The vitriol conversations on social seemed to subside. Hospitals saw a decrease in COVID patients.

COVID had other plans. By July, the Delta variant brought hospitals back to capacity. It’s more contagious and has a shorter incubation period. With this new variant, more than 75% of the country has a “high” transmission rate.

The mask debate is back. Despite having a vaccine, health officials are recommending masking for everyone indoors, an unpopular opinion which has riled up half the country. School districts must make difficult decisions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended masks be worn in all K-12 schools. With no “mandate” or federal law, decisions are left to state, county or local governments, with no consistency. Confusion and anxiety has skyrocketed (at least in our state).

Less than half of the population has been vaccinated, and it’s not enough to stop this pandemic. Will this be real life from now on? Masks? Distancing? Stores closed because they don’t have enough healthy workers? More than 600,000 people have died since March 2020.

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