August 16, 2021

by eric

Whiplash. It’s the only way to describe it.

With two kids under twelve, we never fully relaxed into the “hot vaxx summer” everyone was planning. But in June both kids were finally out of the house in camps and preschool–all day, every day. Frankly it took a little while to get used to concentrating through a full workday again.

Things already were going a little sideways in May, when the CDC told everyone vaccinated they could take their masks off–with predictable effects. Thankfully our kids’ care still required them. Still, it was a strange feeling to be the only ones still wearing masks on the playground at the end of June.

Already then there were rumbles of bad news on the horizon: increasing case rates in highly unvaccinated areas from the much more transmissible “Delta variant.” Rumors, and then increasing certainty, that the Delta variant could break through full vaccination. Vaccination still seemed to provide good protection against hospitalization, but it soon became clear that vaccinated people could get sick, could transmit the virus, could get long COVID, could get hospitalized, could die. Even the rhetoric that “kids don’t get sicktook a hit. Approval for the pediatric vaccine is still months away, despite the AAP begging the FDA to speed approval.

Through it all the steady drumbeat of resistance to public health measures has only intensified. Red state governors have banned mask mandates and vaccine mandates, despite mounting case rates. Schools have seen significant protests in opposition to mask wearing.

It’s taken awhile to get our minds around these changes. We’re having to question assumptions about the end of the pandemic that we clung to for a long time: especially, that once we have a vaccine it will all be over. The future, sadly, looks endemic: we will all likely get it, repeatedly.

In the meantime: schools nationwide are opening for the fall, many without any precautions, and are seeing truly astonishing infection rates. Schoolchildren are being hospitalized and dying. Case counts are rocketing upwards nationwide, and even in (relatively) highly-vaccinated Seattle.

It feels a lot like March 2020 again–but somehow we can’t stomach a lockdown again. We cancelled a family get-together, and have cut out risk wherever we can, but the kids are still doing school in person. Every option feels deranged. The youngest already had a close contact in his classroom and spent two weeks at home with us–thankfully he tested negative. At this point it feels like “when” rather than “if”–and we ask ourselves if we’re making the right choices.