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Post Pandemic Fiction

January 07, 2024
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone,

We’re not "post pandemic," or even close. I'm seven days into “COVID- The Sequel,” hoping to rejoin the world on Tuesday. The aches, sniffles, and fatigue are fading, but I'm still not myself.

It's tempting to speak of the pandemic in past tense. It's a pain to wear masks, avoid public places, and obsess over germs. I love seeing faces, eating at restaurants, and thinking about other topics. But the virus lingers- as I learned after spending last Saturday afternoon sipping mocha and espresso in a Montreal café.

I had to test myself twice. On New Year's morning, I awoke with a scratchy throat. We were joining friends for brunch and planned to test anyway. At that point, I was negative. The next morning, my nose was a little drippy, but I went for a haircut. When I returned, I couldn't ignore the aches and fatigue, so I tested again and the telltale band appeared instantly. I told Heide and the girls, texted our brunch friends, and called my barber to apologize (he was so gracious). I then contacted clinic to rearrange the next day's patients and issued a residency-wide PSA: "Beware false negatives!" Then I rested.

I'll be fine. My immune system works, I’m fully boosted, and my oxygen saturation is 100%. But not everyone is so lucky. Last week, our hospital was inundated with COVID patients and many others with influenza and RSV. We're facing a long winter.

Society wants desperately to move past the pandemic, but we can’t. I'm not advocating for closing schools and restaurants, let alone calling for a lockdown, but more people need to mask in public spaces, especially with this contagious strain. I can’t help but wonder, whatever happened to "flattening the curve" to avoid overwhelming hospitals? Whatever became of our commitment to protecting front line workers and advocating for sick pay? What happened to our responsibility to wear masks to protect the vulnerable?

The notion that we're post pandemic is a fiction we tell ourselves because we want to move past COVID. But COVID isn’t done with us yet, and as long as that's true, I hope you will join me in masking, testing, staying home when you're sick, and reminding anyone willing to listen that our public health emergency hasn't gone away.

Take care, stay safe, and see you soon,


P.S. What I'm reading: "Why Are We So Bad at Getting Better?"


Views expressed in this newsletter are my own.

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on January 07, 2024