Five Pandemic Things I Already Can’t Believe Were Real

We will never believe this happened.

Will Leitch

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The pandemic is not over in the United States. But it sure feels close, right? As The New York Times’ David Leonhardt pointed out this morning, Covid-19 cases in this country are plummeting while, not coincidentally, the number of vaccinations being given are increasing after a brief dip a few weeks ago. (As Leonhardt notes, this increase coincides with the CDC announcing that vaccinated people no longer had to wear masks.) Many states have already re-opened entirely, and the ones that haven’t, the ones among the more cautious ones throughout the pandemic, are about to, including Illinois and California. Covid-19 may never be fully eliminated. But it’s undeniable that a corner has been turned. We are almost out of this thing.

In many ways, we will be spending the rest of our lives wrapping our collective minds about the madness we went through during this time, how scary and disorienting and isolating it was. But I think, as we enter the final stage of the pandemic (this particular one, anyway) in the United States, I wonder if it’s worthwhile to remember how truly bizarre it was. There will be images that, in 30 years, we will simply not be able to believe we actually were alive to witness, that are surreal to even imagine.

So, as my part of a little pandemic time capsule, I thought I would gather five of those images, images that boggle the mind just months after they actually happened. I cannot fathom what we’ll think about them in 2045.

Virtual Fans in the Stands

I’m not sure anyone ever got used cardboard cutouts and pumped in crowd noise, but we did accept it as part of the price of getting to watch sports at all in the midst of a pandemic. But Fox’s experiment with virtual fans at an actual baseball game was like a Coachella of the uncanny valley. Those robot fans “jumping” and “cheering” is going to be the last thing I see before I die.

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Will Leitch

Author of six books, including “How Lucky” and "The Time Has Come." NYMag/MLB.. Founder, Deadspin. https://williamfleitch.substack.com