After a year of sacrifice in deference to the coronavirus, I’m filled with yearnings: to leave home without having to wear a mask; to spend time with my family; to see my friends in person; to go out to restaurants, the gym, movie theaters, plays and concerts; to shop in stores; to travel. I yearn to take a walk and breathe freely.
Then I read this among the many articles guiding us on the route to normalcy:
Only about 9% of the US population has been vaccinated. Estimates suggest that it will take between 60% and 80% of the population to get vaccinated before the country achieves herd immunity, and it’s safe for everyone to loosen precautions entirely.(Katherine Ellen Foley, “Everything you can do once you’re vaccinated against COVID-19,” Quartz, March 8, 2021)
Opinions of our fellow citizens about how to re-enter “normal” society go from one extreme to another and a lot of in-between. On one end are those who think that they have the “all clear” after they receive their vaccine. On the other end are those open to wearing masks and performing excessive handwashing until they can’t remember why they are doing so.
Like many in the middle, I’m relying on messages from the FDA and CDC in order to make my decisions about how I will re-enter the world after being vaccinated for COVID-19.
However, separating the “wheat from the chaff” in messaging is the prevailing challenge of the moment. It can be disconcerting when one is encouraged to trust the science and the data, and then told to “trust the real-world evidence” when there is no empirical data to support this “evidence.” Difficulty in distilling what is fact and what isn’t causes one to question the integrity of some of the voices we’re hearing.
When my skepticism takes up space in my mind, I recall the fact that trust without thinking is not the best platform upon which to make decisions.
Therefore, I plan to continue to listen to the recommendations from sanctioned authorities as well as opinions of friends and acquaintances as I contemplate on how to re-engage more fully with the world. Breathing deeply and slowly while meditating on the joys of free will and individual rights is a good first step in getting to my new normal.