How can anyone believe that we are “after the pandemic”?

The other day, a local organization sent me an email which had a recap of their first in-person event “after the pandemic.”

Um, what?

I’m not against outdoor gatherings. Heck, I considered going to this organization’s outdoor gathering (and decided not to for reasons unrelated to covid). But… “after the pandemic”?

In San Francisco (where both I and this organization are located) official covid case counts are rising, hospitalizations are rising, test positivity rates are rising, and wastewater covid levels are rising. One testing location in the city reported a 19% positivity rate this month.

How is this compatible with being ‘after the pandemic’?

Deaths aren’t rising—yet—but that’s a lagging indicator. Long covid data sucks so bad we can’t track it.

Anecdotally, among locals I talk to… covid still makes people sick.

A few weeks ago, I had physical contact with an unmasked person who hours later tested positive for covid (she ‘felt bad’ which is why she got tested). Thank goodness our interaction was outdoors. (I wore an unsealed cloth mask, which doesn’t protect the wearer much).

This person deserves applause for informing face-to-face contacts that she tested positive. Honest communication like this makes the community safer.

I experienced no covid symptoms and, five days later, I tested negative (rapid antigen test). Though I knew the odds were in my favor, the experience shook me.

For the first time since March 2020, I’m wearing N95 masks outdoors regularly. Overkill? Yep. Overkill means that, when I’m outdoors + wearing an N95, I don’t worry about covid infection. Getting close to unmasked people doesn’t bother me. It helps that I’ve found a comfortable model: Gerson Surgical 3230+ N95 Respirators. I recommend them for whenever you want N95s.

Some locals I talk to say the ‘after the pandemic’ thing is just politics. Politics plays a part, no doubt. But the root isn’t politics, it’s wishful thinking. Pretending that the pandemic is over and lifting protective measures while cases are rising isn’t good for politicians’ long-term goals, or even their winning-the-next-election goals.

Take President Biden, for example. He’s 79 years old. I don’t know when he last got a booster, but the effectiveness of vaccines wanes in months, and Omicron has some level of immune escape. He’s prescribed Eliquis a.k.a. apixaban, which means he might not be able to take paxlovid (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir) (check out the drug interaction between nirmatrelvir/ritonavir and apixaban). Yet he went maskless into a poorly ventilated room with hundreds of other maskless people. They refused to use UV sanitation. Guests only had to take same-day rapid antigen tests (even though they have many false negatives) and self-report (what stopped them from lying, or just failing to see a faint line which proves their covid positive?)

I understand the rationale for having most people maskless (though I disagree), but I don’t understand why they refused excellent ventilation + UV sanitation and same-day PCR tests (fewer false negatives) verified by a third party (so that people don’t ‘misinterpret’ the results).

I’m glad Biden didn’t get hospitalized because of that event, but it was reckless (and others got infected). I can’t imagine any president, cynical or not, who took science seriously doing that. That’s not political calculation, that’s trying to make the pandemic go away by burying one’s head in the sand.

A few weeks ago, local mask-wearing levels were at their lowest level in about two years. Now I see the proportion of people who mask in public rising. Whoever prepares emails for that one organization is apparently ignorant of local covid levels, but many of my neighbors are not. Whether they follow the data or just listen to each other’s stories of covid infections, people around here know the pandemic isn’t over.

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