The Winter Surge, COVID Fatigue, and Shutdown Wreckage

As he picked at a plate of leftovers at the kitchen counter, Steve looked up from his cellphone, where he was scrolling through news headlines. He said things are going to get bad again in one to three weeks, according to the experts. “Maybe it’s time to load up the pantry again.”

On my daily check-in phone with my folks, my mom and I reviewed the various ways we could do Thanksgiving this year. One plan is to celebrate next week, five weeks early. Another plan is to do it on the regular day, but just have dessert and coffee together around a propane heater in my sister’s backyard.

Ian’s out-of-district school has opened up enough, so he can now go five days a week from 7:45 to 12:45 – much better than other school districts nearby. But the big urban districts are falling like flies. I’m worried that his district will be next.

While running this morning with one of my special ed mom friends, she said that the state is still not providing therapy and ABA supports to little kids with autism.

I am done. This is terrible. I am beyond COVID Fatigue. Fatigue is just tired, and solved with a simple nap. I’m COVID-Pissed. I’m COVID-Fuming. I’m COVID-Livid.

Yes, we needed to wear masks and be careful. We still do. But I am sad for the people who have been totally screwed over by the shutdowns, and I am angry that our COVID response has not prioritized the neediest groups.

Every day, I drive past the sports field down the block. And, every day, there are soccer and baseball games going on, sometimes simultaneously. Seated in cheap $14 folding chairs, the parents cheer for Junior and gossip with each other. And nobody is wearing a mask. Why is a soccer game more important than giving a two-year kid an hour of ABA therapy?

COVID shutdowns are creating a massive wreckage to our society. Kids are not being educated. Business owners are losing shops and restaurants that took decades to build. Women are leaving the workforce. This is beyond a disaster.

What’s the answer? I’m not a herd-immunity person, but we could make other changes that consider priorities and equitable outcomes without mass carnage. For example, we could shutdown the damn soccer games, before shutting down the ABA therapy. We could shame folks for in-house, family parties, which are a bigger vector for spread than Kindergartens. We could target education campaigns in communities that are having the hardest time obeying basic mask and social gathering rules.