Sunday, January 2, 2022

Two Lanes


The Year in Review episode of local podcast Elevate Maryland is out and I started listening yesterday. I tend to listen to podcasts in chunks so I haven’t competed it yet. My focus got somewhat derailed by two assertions about COVID made by co-host Tom Coale. What follows is not a critique of the podcast nor Mr. Coale. It’s a response to a topic which is deeply complicated - - depending on who you are.

First off, the statement, “We’re all going to get COVID” certainly gave me pause. Maybe it’s accurate, maybe it’s fatalistic, but, for those who are at high risk for severe complications, hospitalization and/or death, it’s disturbing. Perhaps he meant: those of us who are vaccinated and boosted and relatively young and healthy are going to get COVID and we have to come to grips with that reality. 

I can’t speak for him, I don’t know. 

I would have liked to have heard even a nod to how the relatively young and healthy crowd are going to protect the more vulnerable, but, clearly that’s me coming from knowing I’m among the more vulnerable.

 Coale’s focus seemed to be more on how the unvaccinated and unboosted are placing such a heavy burden of our health care system that it is already causing a negative impact on all sorts of non-COVID care. And that’s a valid point. I’m glad he raised it. I’d be interested to learn how local health care providers/institutions are planning to deal with this. I fear that we are in such a crisis mode with the omnicron variant that it is extremely difficult to make or activate a plan. 

To be honest, that scares me, not necessarily for myself or my own family, but simply for the horrible burden that has been placed on the front line workers who are responding day and night to this crisis.

One last thing. Coale described that brief window of time in the summer and fall where things felt more normal and people were eating inside restaurants again and suggested that it might be back by the end of January. That would be great. My own doctor has predicted Spring, so, I hope he’s right. But unspoken in this prediction is, again: those of us who are vaccinated and boosted and relatively young and healthy. It’s a distinctly different “new normal” for anyone else.

There have always been different “lanes” when it comes to health outcomes in our country. Rich vs poor, white vs Black and Brown, insured vs uninsured. I knew that. What’s different now are the lanes emerging as a result of COVID. It’s always been like this, but now I am experiencing it in a way that I haven’t before. Mostly I (and many others, I would guess) want to make good choices and take care of ourselves without being dependent on others for our survival.

Yeah, well, the novel coronavirus laughs at that.

There’s a long running meme on Twitter where a person comments on something that hits too close to home: 

“I’m in this tweet  and I don’t like it.”

Yesterday that tweet found me.

I’m going to finish listening to the end of year episode today. I’ve been a faithful listener from Elevate’s beginnings and cohosts Candace Dodson-Reed and Tom Coale always give me something to think about. Maybe a little too much this time, but, as I said: it’s complicated.

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