Our views have changed a lot in the last two years.
The first person I knew who had Covid-19 was an old friend who had been traveling in Spain in mid-March 2020 and, upon returning to New York City, came down with a nasty, debilitating fever. She was “as sick as I’ve ever been,” and my friend, who is rarely ill, was bed-ridden for several days. “It was really scary there for a few days,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to die. But I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get better.” I remember talking to her, at the end of that month, and being both happy she was better and terrified for her. Who knew what lay ahead of her? Was this really the end of it? Would her life ever be the same after she was infected? I found myself thinking of her, if I’m being honest, as if she’d been in a horrible car accident: It made me feel bad for not spending more time with her, you know, before. It felt, in a way, like the end of the world.
It no longer feels this way when I find out that someone I know has Covid. We’re in the midst of what seems like another wave, at least among the East Coast; cases are up 39 percent over the last two weeks. The BA.2 variant is now the primary variant in the United States, and it’s reportedly even more transmissible than the evil Omicron. Athletes are starting to test positive again. It’s up for considerable debate how bad this wave will be — it seems unlikely to approach that Omicron wave — and one should be careful about overreacting: There are still fewer cases right now than anytime since mid-July 2021, even with this increase. But still: You’d like the number to be going down, not up.
And anecdotally, you’re seeing more people test positive again. Just in the last few days, two of my close work associates have tested positive. A friend here in Athens just tested positive for the third time, which would seem difficult to do even if you are trying. But that speaks to just how different this period is than any other period of the pandemic and, I’d argue, helps explain why so few people are changing their daily routines or taking extra precautions despite the rising number of cases and the emergence of the new variant. (And why you saw people celebrating being able to take masks off on planes, perhaps unwisely.) After all: How concerned can you be about someone who has…