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Last summer I wrote that my experience with the COVID-19 pandemic at that time was "pretty pedestrian". At the time, I was optimistic that the pandemic would soon be well under control, despite the absolute ineptitude of our government's initial response. But here we are, a year and a half later, and community spread of COVID is still causing almost as many deaths on a weekly basis as it did at the height of the pandemic a year ago. This is despite the widespread availability of free, CDC and FDA-approved vaccines!

Vaccines are now available for children as young as 5.

My partner and I are vaccinated, as are most of our friends and relatives, but we have a 11-year old child attending public school, and a 2 1/2 month old infant. Neither child is vaccinated yet. The vaccines weren't approved for use in children under 12 until recently, and even then, they are only approved for children as young as 5. We had scheduled for our 11-year old to get the first vaccine shot in early November (the week after it was approved for children in her age group). But in a twisted bit of irony, COVID made it into our household before she could get that shot.

Close calls

We narrowly avoided contracting COVID earlier in October. I was asked by a neighbor to walk their children to school one morning because she and her husband had to go into work early. I was happy to oblige. It's the neighborly thing to do. What I didn't know was that the father is unvaccinated. Had I known, I likely would have refused. And I would have been vindicated in that refusal because their entire household came down with COVID that week. The father is a teacher and was required to do weekly testing. He tested on Monday, I walked the kids to school on Tuesday, the father received his positive result on Wednesday, and the kids and their mother began showing symptoms that weekend.

Lucky for us, none of us got sick. The kids either weren't contagious yet, or we just weren't close enough to contract it from them. And don't worry, our neighbors and their kids are all recovered now.

The next exposure, we weren't quite so lucky.

Our luck runs out

The week before our daughter was scheduled to get her first vaccine shot, my partner contracted COVID. The likely vector for the virus was another child of un-vaccinated parents who went trick-or-treating with our daughter on Halloween. The mother of one of our daughter's friends had been watching him on weekends because his deadbeat mom kept dumping him off on her. He had been feeling sick the week before, but didn't bother to tell us, nor did his mother bother to tell us. I think she just wanted to get him out of the house so that she could get some booty calls.

It's too bad the CDC couldn't have authorized the vaccine for younger children before Halloween.
I imagine we weren't the only ones to catch COVID while trick-or-treating.

We had 2 occasions in which we socialized with children of un-vaccinated parents, and in both cases, we were exposed to COVID. We had been rigorous about making sure that any adults we socialized with were vaccinated. But children couldn't be vaccinated, and we couldn't deny letting our daughter visit with friends. All of her friends' parents were vaccinated, so it never really occurred to us to make a policy of verifying the vaccination status of other childrens' parents. It seems obvious in hindsight, but we just never thought of it.

We avoided COVID for a year and a half,
but our luck ran out this November.

Anyway, he tested positive the day after Halloween, and our kid's friend's mom tested positive a couple days after that. A week after Halloween, my partner started sniffling and coughing while breast-feeding our son. I had her take a home COVID test, and sure enough, it was positive. We promptly put her into quarantine in our guest room (thankfully we have a house large enough to allow us to keep a guest room). And since we couldn't be certain that we had quarantined her before she spread it to myself or our 11-year-old, we were forced to all start wearing masks in the house whenever we were around each other, or whenever any of us was handling the baby.

It sucked. You think it's uncomfortable and inconvenient to wear a mask in public? Imagine having to do it all day in your own home!

I then had to spend 2 weeks worrying if either of my kids were going to get sick. My partner and I are both vaccinated, relatively healthy adults. I wasn't as worried about us, but I was worried about our unvaccinated children -- especially the baby.

In the meantime, my partner was only sick for a few days, and it never got worse than some sniffles and a cough. She lost her sense of taste for like 1 day. Nobody else in our house became sick, and our self-quarantine even ended just in time for us to be able to attend Thanksgiving dinner with my parents.

You think wearing masks in public is uncomfortable? Imagine doing it all day in your own home!

We got lucky. Hundreds of thousands of others in this country alone haven't been so lucky.

Other cases around us

There were also many others in our social circle who weren't as lucky as we are.

Not long after I had written that first post a year ago about my experience with the pandemic being pedestrian, one of my uncles caught COVID and died. He was the victim of a series of strokes a decade ago, and was living in a nursing home. COVID ran rampant through that home, infecting many patients, including him.

Social distancing meant we never were able to have an actual funeral for him. Instead, one of my aunts hosted a "celebration of life" event at her home several weeks later. She did not require that guests wear masks, despite hosting a "funeral" for someone who died of the disease. She provided masks and hand sanitizer for anyone who wanted them, but nobody used them. Something like 50 people showed up to that event, and none of them wore masks except for myself, my father, and the host's husband.

Following that event, my grandmother, several of my aunts, both my parents, and my sister all got sick. My mom tested positive for COVID, so we can only assume that everyone else had it too, even though they never bothered to confirm it with testing. Thankfully, none of them died.

Is there anybody left who hasn't been affected?

Others in my social circle haven't been so lucky.

The director who hired me for my last job died of COVID.

Another friend had both of her parents catch COVID, and one of them died.

Three of our friends who live together all caught it last November. One of them became so nauseous that she couldn't keep any food or water down and had to go to the ER for dehydration and receive IV fluids. Otherwise, she might have died.

Several other friends in other states also caught COVID and were very sick for a week or two. One couple runs a business, and struggled to keep it open while they were sick.

One of my co-hosts on the PolyCast podcast also caught it and still has some lingering respiratory issues months later.

In the year and half that this pandemic has been ongoing, it has taken its toll. At this point, I have trouble believing there is anybody left who hasn't been affected by it, or knows someone who has been affected by it.

I want this stupid pandemic to end so that I can stop worrying about whether my friends or family might get sick and die, and also so that I can go back to socializing and getting groups of people together for board games and stuff like that. So please, get vaccinated if you haven't already. And get your booster if you're eligible for it. I'll be getting my booster in a couple weeks. Also, wear masks in public, wash your hands regularly, and avoid going out if you feel sick at all. We have all the tools necessary to prevent anyone else from dying or being permanently handicapped by this disease; we just have to use them.

I haven't stopped buying board games, and I can't wait for the pandemic to be over so I can play them all.

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Comments (1) -

12/01/2021 09:17:02 #

Doesn't the vaccine only reduce symptoms in its recipient and have little to no effect on spread? You still get covid and can spread covid with the vaccine, it just makes suffering through covid easier to deal with. It seems like something you'd get to protect yourself, not others.

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