Hoping for Pandemic Pandemonium to Fade Away

by Julian Sereno

Two weeks ago I bent an elbow for a second shot of Moderna vaccine. My spirits soared even as my arm swelled. Now I’m supposed to be as immune from COVID-19 as I’m going to get. Hallelujah!

Like early spring, hope buds as the pandemic, and the manifold misery it caused, starts to abate. Freedom from worry away from home is at hand. Freedom to go anywhere.

Too bad there isn’t anywhere to go. When I finally went about my business the other day and ran errands as I last did March 11, 2020, I found the world changed. The last restaurant where I dined is carry-out only, the bank only lets customers inside for closings. The world shut down.

A plague on all our psyches, COVID-19 has carried a terrible price. It has killed more than half a million of us and impoverished tens of millions. Some have faced isolation and loneliness, others crowding and loss of privacy. Some had to work remotely while running herd over minor children, and others had to risk COVID-19 to earn a living. Signs of stress-caused psychoses and depression abound.

It has caused a collective cabin fever leading to civic strife: the fury of the protestors, BLM and Trumpers alike. Cooped-up people of all political persuasions flew their coops and blew their tops.

COVID-19 exacerbated all the divisions that already cleave our country and created new ones. Maskers vs. Anti-Maskers. Vaxxers vs. Anti-Vaxxers. Remote Learning vs. Reopening School,. Shut Down Unessential Businesses vs. Open Up the Economy. Maybe hand-washing has universal support. Then again maybe not.

Whatever the new normal will be like, it will emerge slowly, gradually. It won’t lead to an end of masks anytime soon. Immunized people might be able to infect those not yet immunized. Other COVID-19 variants keep on mutating. 

COVID-19 is bringing about a changed world. Restaurants, bars, and some retail businesses have closed their doors forever, and owners, bartenders and wait staff have lost their livelihoods, their businesses, their savings, and even their homes.

And of course, remember Donald Trump was swept from power. Absent COVID-19, with a high-employment economy and no pandemic to mishandle, Trump would still be in office.

Moving forward into this weird new world, we all need to help those who have suffered the most. Nothing can assuage the grief of those who have lost loved ones. But helping all who have lost their jobs, their businesses, or their homes is needed now, urgently.

So I’m spending all my stimulus money, the $1,800 from the Trump administration and however much the Biden administration sends, to support those who have been hardest hit. I’m going to spend it all at bars, restaurants, hotels, and airlines. I’ll even kick in money the government didn’t give me.

Julian Sereno is editor and publisher emeritus of Chatham County Line.