I belong to a semi-exclusive club. Let’s call it the Invisible COVID Club, not because we have COVID, but because we’re petrified of getting it.
We are the “people with underlying conditions.” If we get COVID-19 we’d likely end up all alone on a ventilator and quite possibly, worse. We’re already a statistic and don’t want to become another one.
So, we stay home.
We’ve been home since March, only venturing out when there is no other option. It’s actually a no-brainer. When you have everything to lose you don’t gamble it away.
When it comes to the pandemic, in some ways I wonder if we have it easier. We’ve made peace with the situation. Those of us with a positive outlook, monetary means and an emotional support system are even making the most of it. Sure, we get frustrated, angry and sad just like everyone else, but we also have premier coping skills we’ve acquired over the years due to our underlying chronic conditions.
For the healthier world it’s not quite as simple. When human beings have a choice – or the perception of a choice – it’s only natural to make exceptions and push the envelope a bit.
I’m not talking about the anti-maskers. If nothing else, they are consistent.
I’m talking about the everyone else – often responsible and rational people who follow the rules and would never label themselves as reckless. I’m talking about those who have an income and do not have to go out to work to make ends meet; those who have wi-fi, heating, a minimum of three streaming services and an Instacart account.
There’s a tipping point for human beings – that moment or scenario where they are able to rationalize a calculated risk, often having blind spots of convenience as they claim they would never take the specific risks others are opting for.
Every person has that one thing they’ll make an exception for – a haircut, Costco run, small-ish gathering, camping trip, road trip, celebration, religious service or anything else that’s either important or triggers FOMO.
For some it’s out of necessity, sometimes even the noble kind, such as voting or attending to a friend or family member who needs them.
For others, it’s a matter of mental health; wanting to get out and be active before they “go crazy.”
There are those who “do it for their children” while the most prevalent category is for the pragmatic people who do things for “practical reasons,” always while taking the necessary precautions.
Regardless of the category, it’s all up to interpretation. Interpretation based on the facts we have, the credible sources we seek out, what we choose to hear and what we believe we need.
The pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone. For some people – especially young people – this may be the biggest challenge or tragedy they have dealt with, the first time they have ever had severe restrictions in their life. Dealing with challenges and constraints is a learned practice that can leave you with cuts and bruises to show for it. We in the Invisible COVID Club can attest to that.
It’s up to each of us to interpret the situation and the scientific facts. We ultimately have to trust that each person is not only being responsible for themselves, but for others too. Those of us in the Invisible COVID Club will tell you that all sounds good, but is tougher to believe (and a tad disconcerting) when we see the varying interpretations around us.
We’re at a critical juncture as 2020 comes to an end. A multitude of swirling forces are in the air – the elation of an election (for most), the promise of a vaccine, the allure of the holidays, the incomprehensible death toll in the US, the fear inspired by the return of COVID-19 around the world and, most of all, the growing, gnawing, pounding feeling that enough is enough and we need to get back to normal.
The choice everyone has is whether to adeptly juggle and stay balanced with these swirling forces or look away, let go and hope they do not collide and put us on a crash course.
It’s all up to interpretation and the outcome is up to each of us.