Early in the year, or maybe it was around the New Year build-up before this year, I saw a meme pointing out that 2021 is pronounced "twenty-twenty won." Also that 2022 is pronounced "twenty-twenty, too."
To be sure, since it started the current "all," 2020 was a hard year. The introduction of the pandemic. The ostracization of many to our homes. The isolation and closures and cancellations. And, of course, the deadly virus and disease that follows it.
Checking the stats just now, according to the COVID dashboard, more than 287 million people have been reported infected, and just shy of 5.5 million have died of reported COVID. Reported, of course, cannot be overlooked, as there are surely more people who shrugged off the illness, at least not getting tested, or not having their test results reach those that count. As I have speculated throughout, and is echoed in articles about these values, that the real number is likely much higher. And I don't mean to suggest malice, although I'm sure there's someone somewhere suppressing numbers for some reason. Just that not every asymptomatic infection has been tested. Nor every staying-home-with-the sniffles case.
When we first learned of this virus and disease, we were optimistic in our ability to conquer it. Maybe a little pessimistic in its impact.
Quick napkin math, estimating about 8 billion people on the planet, and 287 million confirmed cases, that's about 4% of the population. And of those 287 million, the 5.4 million who died is about 2% of the infected. Or about 7 in 10,000 people have died because of this. It doesn't sound so bad if you dribble it down like that, does it?
This pales in comparison to cancer, which the WHO estimated kills about 10 million people a year worldwide. But it crushes the flu, which the WHO estimated kills up to 650,000 people a year; or about 10% of what COVID has done. All the cancers still kill more people, and we still hate cancer--it is the #1 killer of people I've known, too. But COVID kills way more than the flu, to which it is often compared. Still a beast.
I think the hardest parts are when people need the most medical attention. I mean, many of those cancer patients do, too, but we've built a system knowing that load (and cynically, in some cases profiting from it). I think, now that we've got an understanding of what it takes, the system can adjust to continue with the COVID load. I'm not on the inside, and I see the news where they do include counts of empty ICU beds in the reports, but it seems like now that we know, we can get the equipment, prioritize the space, and prepare to carry on.
Yes, I know there's some heartless calculus in there, and there's no factoring of the people involved. I don't mean to be that brash. It isn't the case that you can catch cancer by treating cancer patients, so there's a huge difference there, too. I hope that the stories of turning people away because the ventilators are all used, and the ICU beds are all full, are fewer and further between. I hope that the long-awaited herd immunity starts to at least feel like it's setting in. It's said that the impact of getting COVID if you're vaccinated is much less than if you're not, just like the flu. Likely why comparatively few people die from the flu--because so many have the flu vaccines. I'm sure caring for those hospitalized flu patients is similar to caring for COVID patients, because you could catch the flu caring for them, right? But we've learned to do that right. I think the move forward will be to do this right, too. And, I really hope we do it right by caring for those caring for the ill.
Less dark, at our house, we managed the last couple years of work-from-home, with its very trying period of remote schooling. We've risked in-school for our kids, with the care and prevention the school and kids have in place. Everyone's vaccinated, with all the adults boosted. I've ventured to my office a handful of times, to do things there alone (like pack my desk stuff that I'd left behind), or to meet some my new team a few months after I joined. We've been to a handful of sporting events, and have taken the kids to a few restaurants.
This, I suspect, is the way things will be moving forward. Even after the call subsides, I think I'll probably continue to wear a mask in a crowd. I've been less sick with the irritating normal illnesses, and I think that has something to do with it. I mask up before going in public places. I don't drive with my mask on (for long), or wear one in and out of my house, but I've got no problem putting one on to walk past strangers in stores or while sitting at a venue for something.
I like the people in my office, but also enjoy shaving hours off my day to prep and commute, and the flexibility of having all my stuff right here is great. I might continue going in a time or two a week, if I'm up for it and the weather is nice, but work from my home office the rest of the time. I think my office is continuing to remain remote-first minded for the foreseeable future, since we've had fantastic outcomes for the last two years. Clearly it wasn't because we sat in cubicles together.
I've become wary of big crowds; never did like 'em much, just put up with them all the time. I do miss going to the ballpark to watch a baseball game, but they have much smaller and more polite crowds than at the football stadium. There is something in the atmosphere when attending a game in person. But we've been fortunate enough to go to dozens of games over the last dozen years or so. I've voiced my opinion that I'd rather pick and choose a few to go to than carry season tickets and hope we can swing the time and sitters and all that goes into attending.
I miss going to a restaurant whenever we're not in the mood to cook, but our kids have forgotten all manners most of the time; I'm sure they're just fine, but they seem so rude and demanding, and have no patience for service or for parents to relax for a bit to enjoy a meal. The kids do like going out, too, because they can get different foods than we do, and breakfast for dinner, and maybe even a Coke, which we rarely have at home. If we can adjust our patience and sensitivities to the things we do at our table, maybe we can be better. We also really started enjoying the outside dining offered at places we'd visit during the months that allowed that. It's a different vibe and crowd, and the concerns that go with that, now that the weather has turned and dining is inside again.
I've ridden my motorcycle hundreds of miles in the last couple years, instead of more than that every week; and that I don't like as much as it sounds. We had a shift in my ability to do that as we divided dropping off and picking up from the before and after school programs, so that's not all virus related. But, because I so seldom go anywhere, and because it's convenient to stack on top of, the motorcycle has been buried at times under things to recycle. Commuting changes have been helpful in other ways, though. I think the last time I filled my Jeep with gas was in November, and there's still plenty to go. We each make quick dashes to take-out or grocery runs, and that works; we started doing that in some form the summer we went without a 4-wheel vehicle, and that was a nice change to purposeful and fresher meals.
Maybe 2020 did win, and the next year will be like 2020, too.
But I'm used to it now.