It’s December, and Americans are fatigued by the pandemic. We’ve watched all the television we can possibly binge, and the initial coziness of pandemic living (baking bread! learning how to crochet! living in sweat pants!) has morphed into crushing boredom and constant terror about the scale of the catastrophe.
The Pfizer vaccine arrived the same week that we crossed the devastating 310,000 deaths milestone. The vaccines are a crack of light in the darkness. As I write this, a second coronavirus vaccine has been given emergency approval by the FDA. In just ten months we’ve gone from pandemic to vaccine with the kind of speed that most people thought was impossible. They are vaccinating people on television. This week Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fox “News” owner (and serial disinformation spreader) Rupert Murdoch, and actor Ian McKellen got their first doses of the two-dose vaccine inoculation. The end is coming, but it’s not here.
Meanwhile, the Trump White House continues to hold maskless Christmas parties. The Trump administration delighted in several days of maskless super-spreader events with every tacky celebrity from Kid Rock to the Trump kids. Trump and his administration have been extremely good at not leading and not providing any federal guidance. The Trump administration’s excuse is that federal guidance on mask wearing and social distancing might step on Americans’ “freedoms.” But the reality is for the last ten months the Trump administration has basically tried to ignore the pandemic in the hopes that it would go away and that people wouldn’t notice all the deaths.
One of the many problems with having no federal government guidance is that we Americans are getting our guidance, ahem, elsewhere. One look at my Instagram feed shows why this is a bad idea. Half of the people I follow are locked up, eating cereal all day, watching Netflix, trying not to die (me) and half of my feed is people on vacation pretending everything is normal.
Everything is not normal. One look at the fire engine-red New York Times coronavirus map should be confirmation that the pandemic is not over. It will be over soon; we won’t live like this forever,. But we absolutely need to live like this for a few more months.
We have to hold on through this lonely Christmas. We have to hold on through this gray season. The sun is coming, spring is on its way, and with it will come more vaccines, an economic recovery and eventually a return to normalcy. I know it’s so hard. I look at my unhappy teenagers, my lonely mother, my sad stepmom, and I beg them to hold on. I tell them the cavalry is coming. It’s just not here yet.
I understand the temptation to say the pandemic is over because a few thousand people have been vaccinated. People are tired and they’re bored. It’s dark and there’s no place to go. It’s been almost a year of death and despair and sitting on the sofa. But we’re not at the end of this pandemic, we’re at the peak. So I’m begging you just as I begged my parents and my stepmom: “Just hold on.”