A black man in a light blue button down shirt is wearing a tan face mask. A white man in a black shirt is wearing a black face mask. They are in an office environment. Photo by Good Faces on Unsplash.
Photo by Good Faces on Unsplash

What you considered to be “normal” life is gone forever. The sooner you accept this – the easier it will be for you to move on and make better choices.

One of the things I’ve noticed since the COVID pandemic started is the idea that this would all be over soon. It might have been understandable to think that back in the last few months of 2019, when almost nothing was known about COVID-19 or its mutations. I’m writing this at the very end of 2021, and we are still in a pandemic.

It didn’t have to be this way, but here we are.

I’m not a doctor, nurse, or any other type of health care practitioner. I’m not an epidemiologist, or a person who helps make vaccines. I’m also not a politician who is tasked with the job of ensuring the safety of the people who are hoping to avoid getting infected from a frequently mutating virus that spreads very quickly.

What I am is a person with two auto-immune diseases – neither of which has a cure. I’m extremely lucky that my body was finally strong enough for me to safely get vaccinated. Getting there took years of work, medical tests, medication and supplements, and a huge effort to learn how to avoid getting sick from my multitude of allergens.

I was able to get my first shot (Pfizer), and later my second shot (also Pfizer). Recently, I had my booster shot (also Pfizer). Sometime before the booster, I was able to get a flu shot – my first in at least a few decades. I have been wearing a mask every time I go outside since March of 2020 when California was the first state to institute a lockdown. I rarely ever leave the house, but when I do, it is so that I can receive medical care.

There likely are people who have auto-immune diseases worse than mine, and who cannot safely get a COVID vaccine. This is not their fault. There are a wide variety of auto-immune diseases, and the cause of them can vary. Those of us who have one (or more) auto-immune diseases have to be very careful about everything we encounter every day.

It really bothers me is that there is absolutely no way for me to discern if a person is vaccinated or not. Wearing a mask isn’t always an indicator, because masks are required on public transportation – and in Uber and Lyft vehicles. If you walk into a store with a mask on your face, and then push it under your chin shortly after that – I know that you cannot be trusted to keep other people safe.

It seems to me that people who stopped wearing masks made that decision because they want things to go back to “normal” – like it was before the COVID pandemic started. It is as though they are trying to make the world look like it used to, in the hopes that “magical thinking” will simply turn back time.

Please understand that the “normal” you are longing for is never coming back. Here’s why:

There are too many people who not only refuse to get vaccinated (despite being healthy enough to get the shot) and who also refuse to wear masks. Those decisions put them at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 (and whatever strain is currently dominant). It is not possible to immediately know that you have caught the virus, because the symptoms don’t instantly appear. This means that they are spreading the virus wherever they go. Cases of COVID start rising again, and we all go back into lockdown.

And then, the same group who refuses to comply gets outraged that there is another lockdown.

That cycle must be stopped. Some corporations are requiring workers to be vaccinated and to wear masks. Some are letting go workers who won’t comply. There are numerous events, conferences, stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and schools that won’t allow people in unless they will wear a mask and provide proof of vaccination. I believe that these measures will continue until the COVID virus is gone. What used to be “normal” in offices is no longer safe.

Did you know that people in Japan wear masks when they are sick? I want that to become the new “normal” in the United States. The masks will help prevent the spread of viruses, colds, and other respiratory illnesses. It also shows that you care about the health and well being of other people.

Early on, we learned that it is entirely possible for (many but not all) people to work from home. I believe that is going to be an option for more and more workers – especially those who have disabilities. Working from home might become the only way for non-vaccinated people to keep their jobs. It is also likely to become the way students are educated. To make this work, we need to ensure that everyone has access to the internet. That’s likely something that states or the federal government can make happen.

Public facing types of employment will have to dramatically change. It is already starting to. People who work in grocery stores, retail, restaurants and bars are required to wear masks. This will not change anytime soon. Part of the reason masks are necessary for these types of employment is because the masks provide protection not only from the virus, but also from the angry anti-maskers who spit on workers who ask them to wear a mask. Here are some examples of this.

If the United States had required all businesses to give people paid time off when they get sick, we could have potentially stopped the spread of COVID early on. We also need the federal government to institute single-payer health care, or universal health care, so people can afford to get their illnesses and chronic diseases properly managed and tended to. I think many people want that to become the new “normal”.

We Won’t Go Back to “Normal” is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites. If you enjoyed this blog post please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Thank you!

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