COVID-19: Descent

After a couple years, it’s become pretty clear that COVID isn’t just a droplet-spread respiratory virus, but a fast-evolving, airborne, neuroinvasive disease that can have long-term multi-organ inflammatory, autoimmune, and neurological effects, even for mild and asymptomatic cases.

Contrary to received knowledge spuriously derived from previous pandemics caused by other pathogens, the SARS-CoV2 virus can evade non-neutralizing mRNA vaccines, does infect children and spreads from them to other family, does not necessarily evolve towards milder forms, can infect people through the air over distances farther than three or six feet and intervals under fifteen minutes, doesn’t care how much you work out or take vitamins, does not strengthen the immune system or necessarily impart lasting immunity to itself — and looks ready to exhaust the Greek alphabet that the WHO was using to label variants. (Which is probably why seem reticent to go past Omicron.)

Local governments have given up, made masks optional, eliminated contact tracing, cut down case reports, and will probably eventually make people go to work and school sick, all the while pretending the pandemic is mild or over and delaying updated vaccine boosters. Meanwhile, reinfections, hospitalizations, and deaths rise, healthcare workers die or burn out and quit, and survivors face increasing risks of long-term sickness with repeated infections.

Right alongside antivaxxers and covid denialists, we’ve also seen the rise of covid “minimizers” who, driven by desperation for normalcy (or possibly sheer eugenics), think an outdated vaccine is enough reason to end all other mitigations, and will actively mock anyone taking other measures to avoid infection as deranged germophobic shut-ins. Sadly many minimizers are now in positions of power and influence, leaving the reasonably cautious feeling gaslit and isolated. So I end up surrounded by people coughing at me to “live your life, it’s endemic now, take off that mask, covid is here to stay” without regard for how the virus outsizedly affects minorities, the poor, the immunocompromised, and other marginalized populations.

Given all this, plus more communicable variants, our masking posture has gone from “we’re all in this together” community protection to individual-defensive: N95 masks with tight side seals, rather than leaky surgical masks and porous cloth. No more triple-folded keffiyeh; I managed to get a nice big box of 3M Aura 9210+ masks and am considering going semi-Vader with a half-face P100 respirator.

Gonna keep trying not to get it, but it’s getting tougher.