Getting Covid-19 Is Different Now
It sure seems like everyone right now either knows someone who has Covid-19, has Covid-19 themselves, or both. Seriously, look at this cases graph:
Considering how much panic and fear there was about Covid-19 during, oh, every other spot on that graph, it sure would seem like we’d all be freaking out right now. And sure, there are a fair share of people who are freaking out right now — they seem to make up a disproportionate percentage of Twitter, which makes sense; those addicted to the endorphin rush of that platform seem the most likely to feel as if their hair is constantly on fire — though one could make an argument these people never stopped freaking out in the first place.
But on the whole: I don’t sense much panic in the streets. Day-to-day activity is roughly what it always is this time of year. The number of masks I see on a daily basis has increased, but not dramatically. Our schools are desperately trying to stay open, but, on the whole, they seem to be succeeding. There were 70,000 screaming people at a football game on Monday night; there will be six more of them this weekend. (The NBA hasn’t had a canceled game in two weeks.) Spider-Man: No Way Home has been out for three weeks and is already the sixth-highest-grossing movie of all time. People are out. They are doing things. The world is still rotating.
The reason for this is obvious but really can’t be stated enough: Vaccines. Now, this does not mean that everyone is vaccinated: According to the New York Times vaccine tracker, 73 percent of American adults are fully vaccinated, and 86 percent have received at least one shot. That is a higher percentage than is appreciated — to read regular coverage, you would think it was something like 50–50 — but it is not 100 percent. That’s why the United States’ hospitalization numbers are higher than they should be, with deaths surely to follow. I wish everyone was vaccinated. But they’re not. But focusing on the vaccination rate misses the point of why American life is much more normal right now, despite the stratospheric rise in cases.