What's Tony Thinking

Covid Confusion and Consternation


Well, you know things are serious when the NFL begins to postpone football games. The Sunday game between the Rams and Seahawks has been punted to Tuesday because about half the Rams roster has tested positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks, who had been taking a certain pride in having the fewest cases in the NFL, now have a couple of their own — involving key players.

We are like runners who have been waiting for the starting gun to sound signaling a return to life as we’d like it. But once again there seems to have been an operator error. The damn starting gun has shot us in the foot . . . again!

Just when we were “ready to run,” enjoy the holidays and the gatherings. we’ve been shot down.

I was struck by two recent pieces at the Atlantic. Each one was written by a thoughtful, articulate person. Each spoke with complete confidence and conviction. And each offered us, the anxious public, a completely, diametrically opposed takes on the situation.

The title of one says it all, “Where I Live, Nobody Cares About COVID.” The author, Matthew Walther, the editor of a Catholic literary journal who lives in a rural community, writes:

“I don’t know how to put this in a way that will not make me sound flippant: No one cares. Literally speaking, I know that isn’t true, because if it were, the articles wouldn’t be commissioned. But outside the world inhabited by the professional and managerial classes in a handful of major metropolitan areas, many, if not most, Americans are leading their lives as if COVID is over, and they have been for a long while.”

Meanwhile, and writing for the very same magazine, Ian Bogost, head of the film program at Washington University in St. Louis, says he’s giving up on post-pandemic life because we, collectively, haven’t done what was in our power to end the pandemic. Here’s Bogost:

“The coronavirus was once ‘novel’ because it was new. Now it feels both ancient and eternal. Having endured the emergence of two major strains even since the rollout of vaccines, a difficult thought is planted in my head: What if the pandemic never ends? The scientists tell me that ‘endemicity’ is now the goal: COVID-19 will never go away, but eventually we will be able to control it. That sounds good, but we have just spent a year proving that we cannot control it, even when the tools for control appear to be at hand.”

For Walther we’re all too uptight about COVID. For Bogost, we’re not nearly uptight enough.

About all I know is that 1) we’re not out of the COVID woods yet, and that is 2) disappointing, exasperating,  and — well — hard. How many people are now revising, cancelling, anxious about the plans they had made for “holidays,” plans that would allow for greater connection, getting out, etc.?

Given the confusion and frustration, let’s do the best we can, cut each other some slack, and keep on keeping on.

And pray, pray the “Serenity Prayer.”

“God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.”

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