We’re in the home stretch. COVID-19 infection rates in the US are still hovering just under 60,000 each day, about the same as the spike last summer. Yet the end feels near — case numbers have plummeted since January, as have hospitalizations and deaths. The long-awaited vaccines are working tremendously, and warmer weather means we can spend more time outside, where spread is much less likely. If we hold on just a little longer and stick to what we know minimizes transmission, we will get through this!
If you’re having trouble focusing on the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel (and you’re not alone), try to focus on the ways in which we’re set up for success in this final push:
Almost 40% of Americans have now received at least one shot (click here to see your local statistics). It’s important to acknowledge here that not all communities have had equal access to the vaccine — due to location, income, race, disability, or history of mistreatment by medical systems. When administered, however, the vaccine has been quite successful at decreasing illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. It also seems to significantly decrease transmission of the virus, although more research is needed to understand by how much. With three million new vaccines being given each day, we are on the way to reaching herd immunity and the ability to return to our lives!
2. understanding science, accepting precautions
Last year’s understanding of COVID-19 was shaky, for good reason — it was a novel virus. Scientists had never seen it before and could only give us their best guess to answer our questions. We have now had more than a year to study every aspect of the virus and have much clearer understanding. No, it likely does not transmit from touching surfaces. Yes, even homemade cloth masks work wonders at reducing spread! We know that outdoors is much safer than indoors, that it can spread in droplets as well as aerosols, and that people can be contagious before — or without ever — becoming symptomatic. We have seen some activities (indoor dining, family gatherings, gyms, and religious services) consistently lead to outbreaks. We have also seen large gatherings not lead to outbreaks when outdoors, masked, and adequately distanced. We know that multiple strains exist, and that newer strains are much more infectious than the original.
If knowledge is power, then we are in a position of great power. We know what we need to do to end this pandemic, and to keep ourselves and loved ones safe in the meantime!
3. systems in place
The last year has completely revamped how we socialize, work, communicate… live. It has been a struggle at times to adjust to new ways of doing things, but by this point we are quite adapted to new technologies and protocols. These new systems mean that our remaining time will be less stressful — and involve less of a learning curve — than the initial months of pandemic. We have access to virtual staff meetings and telemedicine appointments. Most stores now have curbside and delivery options available. It no longer feels alienating or scary to don a mask.
4. new kinds of fun
Similarly, we are much more practiced at safe ways to entertain ourselves. We have virtual game nights and social clubs. We’ve mastered the art of outdoor gatherings (and thank goodness for spring weather!) and are champs at eyeballing a safe 6 foot distance. And hey, maybe you’ve also used the time in isolation to rediscover old hobbies, get into running shape, or try out new activities at home that are bringing a newfound joy and serenity.
5. products available
Not only do we have the vaccines, knowledge, systems, and fun alternatives we need to get through this, but we also have amazing products available now that we didn’t have last spring. You can now easily buy masks in all different sizes and styles. Creative inventions to improve virtual experiences or keep your hands germ-free have also popped up. We even have clothing to remind us to socially distance from one another.
With these products in hand, relationships reforged, and life revamped, we will get through this together. Stay strong, and keep up hope. The end is near!