I was strolling to my physical therapy appointment earlier today, and there were some signs of "normalcy". More cars on the road. Construction had restarted.
But even though these signs are present, our healthcare systems are still taking precautions.
There continues to be a relatively slow ramp up in terms of cases. Hospitals are still being cautious about PPE stores in preparation for a second wave. Organizations are STILL collecting PPE donations and distributing them to multiple sites still in need. Many ICU beds are still filled with COVID patients.
Unfortunately, "normalcy" is still much further away than many of us want to admit. But "normalcy" is what people want, gosh darnit, so many have taken it into their own hands to do so.
I have seen enough videos and pictures of groups of people outdoors, not wearing masks, unafraid, from all around the country. Maryland. Missouri. And many others.
And if this bothers you, as it should, do your best to avoid those areas. If you know of people who are skirting the rules, the projections, and care for them, speak to them and see if a kind word from you may change their mind. Try to get them to finally understand they are putting themselves, and others, at risk. Otherwise, continue to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Yes, these actions put healthcare workers at risk. Yes, these actions threaten to once again overwhelm our healthcare systems. But I believe the only way we will elicit change at this point is to initiate it at a grassroots level and have businesses and government develop rules THAT ARE ENFORCED to force change. Many people have made it abundantly clear at this point they will not heed warnings until it affects them or a loved one.
A significant part of these increased skirting of warnings is obviously the warming weather. There is still thought weather may play a role to curtail the disease.
But "curtail" does not mean eliminate.
Yes, it seems the virus spreads faster indoors than outdoors, and I have been a big proponent of being outdoors as it is healing but doing so SAFELY. High humidity may lead to expelled droplets falling faster to the ground, but it does not make the virus less functional.
And let us talk about sunshine.
Vitamin D has been shown to modulate both our innate and adaptive immune response - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/, and Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to increase susceptibility to infections.
So the combination of Vitamin D supplements as well as good old sunshine could both help protect us from infection. This is good. But do not expect sunshine to kill the virus because all the evidence shows it still takes time to do so, so sunlight will not protect you from droplet transmission of the virus. Hence continued use of masks and social distancing.
Florida thus far has not seen a spike in cases even though they started reopening weeks ago. Given how hot and humid Florida is, the question remains if weather is playing a role or if people are mostly being socially responsible to keep the number of new cases under control. Only time will tell.
But if the number of cases DO remain stable or go down during the summer and there is no spike, even with more states reopening, I am going to remain skeptical until the weather starts cooling down.
Do not get me wrong - skeptical does not mean I am not going to go out. I am. It just means I am not going to stop protecting myself and others until I know definitively I have nothing to worry about, that my family and friends have nothing to worry about.
I do not want a spike in cases whatsoever. But I AM concerned if there is not a big spike over the summer, then all the work that has been done over the past few months in regards to protecting ourselves could be undone.
People may start convincing themselves the virus is no longer a concern and, as a result, start going back to acting "normal". And we may not be ready if this coming fall and winter bring about a second significant wave of cases.
If there is not a second surge - which I firmly believe there will be, either this summer or in the upcoming fall/winter - I will still be happy we took a proactive approach to prevention of death and NOT a reactive one. Because before the first wave hit, we had time to be proactive but we were not, and we saw where reactive got us the first time.
Let us not make the same mistake twice in ONE YEAR.
Believe me when I say I HAPPILY hope I am 100% wrong regarding a second surge. I will eat crow till the end of days.
Given how messed up 2020 has been, and how complex COVID-19 has acted, the virus disappearing would be the ultimate fuck you from the virus. I would probably start laughing at the absurdity of it all.
But I do not expect to be laughing anytime soon.
In my first physical therapy session today, I was told patience is the name of the game in my healing process. I was told my recovery was going to take a LONG time. This was something I cannot rush. I may be antsy to get back to normal, but hope will not be the thing to get me there.
I actually told my therapist I need to keep being reminded to be patient because it is SO hard.
But the fact is my shoulder will likely never be normal again, even after all this patience. I will need to get used to a new normal with my shoulder. That is hard to accept, but I cannot change the reality of my situation.
And the same is true of this pandemic.
The healing process from this disease is going to take a LONG time, both physically and mentally. Physically for those afflicted from the virus itself. Mentally for those whose lives have been flipped on its head.
We all need to be patient. We need to get used to the fact things will not be the same again for a long time, maybe ever. A new normal likely awaits all of us.
And that is okay. It really is.