Just fair warning, my Friends – this is going to be a rant, it’s likely to upset some people, and there may be some profanity. I’m working on not alienating people, but really and truly, I’m so frustrated and upset and irritated… I just can’t promise to be polite.
If you somehow have come to the conclusion that COVID is some political play, some world wide group effort to discredit certain political figures or limit your freedoms… I don’t understand you. I don’t understand why you choose not wear a mask, or pull it down once you’ve entered a store, or why you congregate with people you don’t know in large groups. I find it bewildering that the literal stacks of bodies men nothing to you, and that there is science real facts involved, that you overlook or ignore.
Let me cut to the chase here. Wear your damned mask when you go out. I don’t care if it feels uncomfortable – it’s a pill for everyone to wear one. Personally, I’m thinking I’m developing callouses behind my ears. In fact, not only should you be wearing your mask, if it’s cloth or fabric, you should be washing it between usages. Those gaiter things are worthless – you may as well be wearing a pair of tight over your face. Yes, I know some people feel claustrophobic in these bits of paper and cloth – although I feel on some level that’s just an excuse for many of the “entitled” minded to try to weasel out of wearing them. If you truly have this issue, then wear the blooming thing for 1 minute at home, and work your way up to whatever time frame you need – because this horrible virus isn’t some flaming con.
Wash your hands! Ye Gods and Goddesses, it drives me nuts that people don’t do this more often. Yes, I saw a gloveless woman at work (a medical laboratory) cough into her gloveless hand, and then use the handle on a door. I wanted to scream. I’m not a germaphobe, but have some common sense, people. This virus is airborne – it can be droplets, which land on things and hang around for a bit – it’s why people should be washing their produce and if at all possible leaving non-perishables to wait for a few days before bringing them in. It can be aerosol, which means if someone who is asymptomatic breathes that stuff out, you can walk through it, inhale, and yeah – you’re sick, and sometimes die.
There’s been some fluff making the rounds about “only 1% die” or “it’s just a bad flu”. Bullshit. There is no such thing as “only X% die”. Not for the families, not for the friends, not for the co-workers. Saying that is like saying you’re above such things. “Oh that only happens to poor people.” In a sense that’s true – the people who are hardest hit are the people who can’t afford not to go to work, who do the jobs that other people won’t. They don’t often have insurance, and they may live in multigenerational homes. They may be afraid to get tested, or not have the resources to do so. When they die – and there are those who do – trying to find a funeral home can be devastating. The costs alone of an unexpected death can derail a family for years. But saying “Oh, I am in the upper middle class” or “Well, I’m made of sterner stuff” doesn’t freaking work. Viruses give no quarter. they don’t effing care who they infect.
I know this, in part, because of trying to find a funeral home for a friend’s father, who did NOT die of COVID. There were a number of places that simply said, “We’re sorry, we’re at or past capacity.” And those refrigerated trucks holding the bodies? Those aren’t cheap – and when you see a photo of 5 of them, you’re potentially looking at over 600 bodies that are awaiting burial or cremation. How in the name of all that’s holy does that not upset you? How can you justify that in your mind? And, on a totally different, yet plausible tangent – are these the refrigerated trucks that are usually used for produce? That last bit alone is enough to give me the heebies.
I hate, with a passion, the feeling of being trapped in my own home. It makes me frustrated and irritable to wear a mask, to be in a bubble, to miss spending holidays and birthdays with friends or family. I miss going out, and seeing movies or even dining out. I miss random talks with people in line over the wonderful shoes they are wearing or which item on the menu looks the most amazing. Every day I miss those options. I’m incredibly thankful for work, and for having some social interaction aside from phone calls or being with the Hubz. But, damnit all to hell and back, I’d really like not to be employed because of so many being sick.
If you’ve made it this far, I’m going to throw a few rough numbers at you, not perfection and certainly I don’t know the ratio of positives on the specimens we process. It is nothing for us to handle, physically deal with, thousands of specimens for COVID in a single shift. I don’t know about the other shifts. I know that doctors are testing in their own facilities, and that there are other reference laboratories all over the country that are doing the same as we are. I can assure you that this isn’t hyperbole. Going into the refrigerator where we keep the samples in case we need to retest them is depressing. I’m estimating that at any given time there are 35,000 specimens. There’s another lab, just up the highway, that gets new specimens every hour and people are expected to process about 1000 a day. That’s a whole lot of sick, and frightened people. There is not a lot of comfort in job security given the nature of the work. Yes, laboratory work will be there, but I’d prefer it was for something less destructive.
Let’s just throw a bone at the vaccine issue. Where the hell is it? I can tell you that I haven’t been able to get it, and I’m handling these specimens daily. It’s not well distributed, organized, or quite frankly enough supplied. We don’t know how effective it will be against the mutations that are popping up, and until the vast majority of human population is vaccinated, we can’t say that we have this close to being in check. That’s not going to happen in the next few months. For some reason, people keep assuming that it will all be back to “normal” in a few months. You know, because of the vaccine. In the meantime, these same idiots are planning destination weddings in Mexico and the few places people can get to, without the slightest thought of what’s going on with the local populations or social distancing or any of the rest of it!
Stop kidding yourself, lying to others and face it. THIS is normal now. It’s not going to change, not for several years at best. Make the damned best of it as you can. Be creative. be thoughtful. Be kind to yourself and others. Yes, Zoom is not the same as a hug from Nana, but if picking up that Entemann’s coffee cake on your way over for that hug picks up the virus, you’ve just taken something deadly into the home of someone you love. (Random pick on the treat. It could be apples, or a Happy Meal. Roll with it.) I’m thankful that we aren’t at the point where the CDC and WHO are recommending face shields with the masks, gloves, and disposable gowns. Because you know, if we don’t own up to the hell storm that is upon us, those may be the next steps in beating this thing.
Be smart. Be safe. Quit screwing around and being all butch. And if you absolutely must get out of the house, and away from masks, and let the kids blow off steam, find a decent hiking trail and go at an odd hour. Take a walk in the countryside. Get out of your house, your head and make for nature. And for the love of heaven, don’t make me tell you any of this again.