All week long I look for . . .
And then on Fridays, I report back.
This week, most of us heard some good news that gave us hope: The vaccine is on the way! Sooner than we really could have hoped. And . . . bonus! . . . it looks like it will be very effective, too.
Of course, that good news . . . is tempered by the reality that it's going to take some time (actually . . . a rather significant amount of time) to get enough of us vaccinated to return our lives back to "normal" (whatever that even IS anymore).
Still. This is Really Good News. Hope has arrived!
The trick now?
"Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on what we're waiting for."
--- Charles Stanley
The New York Times published a little "tool" yesterday to help us determine our likely "place" in the vaccine line. (Click here to use it.) You just plug in some basic demographic information about yourself, and then it will spit back some figures about your spot in line.
For me, a healthy 61-year-old who isn't an essential worker . . . well. It's going to be awhile. It really IS going to be a long, cruel winter while I wait my turn. But I can take heart that my dad, a not-so-healthy almost-85-year-old who lives in an independent living apartment that is part of a large continuum-of-care facility . . . well . . . he's going to be at the front of the line. And that will relieve a lot of weight from my shoulders. He is isolated and bored -- and eager to get back to his morning "koffee-klatch," his twice-weekly poker games, and his Wii bowling league again! (Not to mention, of course, the reduced concern about a Covid outbreak in his facility.)
But let's get back to that waiting-patiently-through-the-long-cruel-winter part.
(Because for most of us? That's exactly what we're going to need to do.)
We've come to . . . the hard part. We're tired. We're weary. We're Sick of This. If we hear the word "unprecendented" one more time we will scream. And now that we know the cavalry IS really coming, we want relief NOW. It's easy to feel like . . . we're in the clear now. We've got a solution. We're being rescued, see???? And, besides. . . holiday season.
But. Not yet.
We really DO need to get through this really rough patch ahead.
And, as you all know, we have to do it pretty much on our own. Because ain't nobody lookin' out for us, friends. (Or not yet, at least.)
The reality is that most of us will not - or cannot - just sit in our houses for 4-5 months while we wait for our turn in the vaccine line. What do we do? And how can we minimize our risk in a practical way while we wait? Today the New York Times "Daily Briefing" (which I receive every morning in my inbox as a NYT subscriber) published a 3-Step Guide to Risk Minimization based on a survey with 700 epidemiologists and discussions with experts. Here goes:
- There is one behavior you should eliminate WITHOUT exception: Spending time in a confined space (with those outside your immediate household) where anyone is unmasked. This means . . . don't eat indoors at a restaurant or at a friend's or family member's house. Period. Don't have close, unmasked conversations anywhere, even outside. If you're going to work, don't eat with other people. If you're flying, try not to eat or drink on the flight. In other words . . . don't take your mask off at all. (And I know this means with your family members who don't live with you. And I know this is Really Hard.)
- Minimize your time in indoor spaces EVEN with universal masking. This means . . . if you CAN work out at home instead of at the gym, DO IT. If you CAN work from home instead of "popping in," DO IT. If you CAN attend church services remotely instead of in person, DO IT. Even if masks are required and worn universally.
- The good news is that some activities are less risky than people fear. You can walk, run, or bike outdoors without a mask, for example. It's more important to maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others outside than it is to wear a mask. (Close outdoor conversations excluded; see #1) You can also feel okay about "quick errands" -- running to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or the post office, for example. Just minimize your time, wear a mask, keep your distance from others, and wash your hands as soon as you get back home.
The NYT briefing this morning also talked about creating a personal risk budget to manage your Covid exposure risk. Figure out what you NEED to do (grocery shopping, for example) and what you DON'T need to do (browsing at a book store, for example, or working out at the gym) so you can figure out if you CAN do something carefully (meeting a friend for an outdoor, socially-distanced walk -- with masks, for example).
Bottom line . . .
Sometimes HOPE looks like a shot in the arm!
Be patient, my friends.
We're so close.
Hang in there.
And be smart!
My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and hope. And something fun . . . with appropriate risk-management, of course.