I’ve been reading a lot lately. None of it has done me any good. I used to be a verbivore who devoured any and all forms of the written word. Don’t look up verbivore, it’s a “me word only” word. I make up words that should be words and use them as if they really are words. I get to do that because I read a lot. I wish there was actual edification, wisdom, and knowledge in my reading material.
I haven’t been reading books. My reading has been confined to documents and briefs and papers and web updates of documents and briefs and papers. Since March I could be certified (and certifiable) with a Master’s degree or Ph.D. in COVID-19. Don’t “Yay Tom” yet. Any kind of advanced degree or even any study of COVID-19 is useless. I am not a doctor. (You can “Yay Tom” on that one, the world is definitely a better place without me practicing medicine.)
So reading tons of information on COVID is useful for about five or ten minutes. And, everything that I read from March 11 through about 20 minutes ago is no longer useful as the information is now obsolete, half-true or been partially discredited. There is very little that has consensus, and most everything has a sliding scale of agreement.
What we heard in the first five minutes of the pandemic is the most agreed upon piece of information that has been put forth in all this. Wash your hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and wash all the way up to your wrists. If you touch anything, wash your hands again.
I know – masks. Masks are recommended in nearly everything that I read. It will be very interesting for me to read the history of this pandemic in the future. If masks have the efficacy that everyone says that they do, why aren’t the case numbers decreasing accordingly? Questions like that are anathema to certain people. I believe that this pandemic is running its course. People jump up and down and point at the increasing number of cases, in some places, and what I think what we are seeing is “herd immunity.”
But what fogs up any intelligent, mature, and probing discussion of things like this, as in so many other issues, is “herd mentality.” The lines are pretty clearly drawn about how this pandemic should be handled, and never the twain shall meet. Mr. Kipling knew of what he was speaking… even though he said it, or wrote it, more than 130 years ago.
I have more arrows in my quiver about that, but let’s get back to reading. The blisters on my eyeballs will heal, and the gray matter betwixt my ears might even regenerate (my hopes are not real high on that second one…) but what will never come back to me is the time. I am learning things for others, and it’s an important topic. Every document, every discussion, every single everything always includes the handwashing (notice I did too, like a good boy, above) encouragement, the mask recommendation, the six feet (or should it be three feet, or maybe eight feet) of “social distancing,” and on and on and on. It is getting harder and harder to know how much to skip at the beginning of every piece, to get by all that… Reading it for the 8,000th time does not affect its veracity.
You would be extremely wealthy right now if you’d have garnered a nickel for every time that you heard the sound of sanitizer being shot into someone’s hands.
We had a contact tracer call us here the other day. Someone had attended an event in our church (we called it a funeral) and the contact tracer was asking probative questions about our event. The funeral was huge, but we did all that we could to keep people safe. We encouraged masks, most of us wore them almost all the time, we had every other pew closed off, and we asked people to space themselves and do all the things that we all know that we have to do now. We could’ve laid down a three-inch film of hand sanitizer throughout our whole building, we had so much of it around. You would be extremely wealthy right now if you’d have garnered a nickel for every time that you heard the sound of sanitizer being shot into someone’s hands. God bless that contact tracer, she asked if we cleaned our building, if we encouraged social distancing, yadda yadda yadda… and she was answered politely. I get it, she is reading from a script, she has to ask those questions. Everyone knows the drill on that. There is little in the way of anything useful being done to combat the pandemic, everyone mumbles the same advice, repeatedly, as if we are all monks at prayer time in the monastery.
We do get to pump the economy with big dollars on hand soap and sanitizer, paper toweling, we even bought a misting machine that can fog up a room with COVID-killing chemicals in about five minutes. We have the marks on the floor, masks everywhere. We even bought single-serving communion cups, kind of little hourglass-shaped things, with a tiny piece of bread in one part of the hourglass, wine in the other side, both foil sealed for our safety. Don’t even ask on the “per unit” cost of those, and of course, all that single serving waste that heads right to the landfill. COVID has really killed off environmental concerns – everything is single-use now.
Everyone knows that we are in a pandemic. Everyone knows what is being recommended, everyone knows that there are no guarantees. The best way to protect yourself is don’t go anywhere or do anything that violates your level of comfort. I didn’t read that. That one is from me. You’re welcome.
So much of the protocol for battling this pandemic is repeating all these encouragements, all of these recommendations, all of the CDC (Center for Disease Control – but I bet you know that by now…) instructions, guidance by the WHO (I so want to make a reference about not being fooled again, by “The Who,” but the World Health Organization might frown upon that…). We have all of those suggestions posted everywhere, and we expect everyone to read them, but everyone has already read them, probably elsewhere, but we need to post them and repeat them and act like we acknowledge them because we have a legal obligation to do so.
Our world has devolved into this. Read this. Make sure you understand this. Everyone has a certain level of obligation and responsibility in all of this, because every place, organization, and group is supposedly “concerned about your safety.” The concern is for the legal wiggle room to claim that everything was done as it should be, and no one can guarantee a hermetically sealed atmosphere that will 100% protect them from the evils of COVID-19.
For every event that did not take place this year, I am willing to wager that approximately 90% of them were canceled out of fear of litigation as much as for concern about anyone’s safety. Every time we click on an acknowledgment of having read 3,000 words of legalese on a new app for our phone, we are giving that company permission to do a gazillion things with our data, to snoop into our gaming and browsing habits, and deciphering our shoe sizes. But we do it, because we ain’t reading all that.
For all of my COVID fatigue. I know that the stakes are very high. I know that lots of people have died. Someday we might actually know the real numbers who actually died from COVID-19, but I doubt it. There is no incentive to report on these things accurately.
Does it sound like we are about six months into a never-ending nightmare? I think I read somewhere that it can’t go on like this forever.