So I was going to tell you how things are going in this neck of the woods. We get so many updates from major cities, I've figured all along that we might as well have updates from rural NW PA, an area that seemed, 20 months ago, to be well-positioned to weather this storm.
I was going to tell you that local schools are back to having spot outages. A class sent home to quarantine here, a building closed for a week there. Meanwhile, sports and dances and the usual stuff are going on semi-normally. Lets of things in the community are up and running again, some with huge amounts of caution and mitigation, and some not so much.
I was going to tell you that the already-thin substitute ranks are down to near-nothing. That when teachers miss, the dominoes fall all over the building trying to fill the gaps. That school bus routes are disrupted by that shortage (which, like the substitute thinning, has been coming for years). That school staff is getting covid. One known death so far. That school districts are dealing with it mostly by denying any responsibility ("You can't prove you contracted that at school") and, as a corollary to that, are requiring teachers to use their own sick days if they get the 'rona.
I was going to talk about how the notification and tracking business is only marginally less ad hoc than last year, that we're still depending on the honor system and the word getting passed somehow by someone.
The court just ruled that the state's department of health mask mandate for schools is void, but the final word is being held up for appeal, so districts are trying to get out the word that nothing has changed yet. Child vaccinations are under way, as are boosters (I've had mine; my wife, as a teacher, got one as soon as they were out). Just before they were supposed to get their boosters, my brother and sister-in-law were nailed by a breakthrough case of what the twins call the Corona Pirates; it was not fun, but they are fine. Pretty much everyone knows someone who has gotten either an unvaxxed or breakthrough case. Anecdotally, breakthrough is clearly less miserable.
I was going to talk about how there's a sense that there's less above-ground discussion of the situation, but lots of undercurrent. No daily counts in the paper any more. Actually data remains hard to come by. Word is that the hospital is packed, mostly with unvaccinated cases.
I was going to talk about how that it all still remains concerning to we three children of my parents, who are in their mid-eighties and facing some of the challenges that come with being so well-seasoned, but are at least well-vaxxed. And how I also worry about my former colleagues and my wife, who are still leaping into this mess every day.
I was going to talk about all that today, and was prepping that very piece, when I got word that my two four-year-old boys apparently spent a day at pre-school earlier this week playing with another child who has since tested positive for covid. I certainly wish that things had worked out so that we got that information before we all went out to celebrate my mother's 88th birthday. Lots of levels of vaccination and masking and the power of youth suggest that we are probably all clear, but one never knows for certain, and I still have vivid memories of when Baby A's early brush with RSV earned us a life-flight trip to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. So now we'll spend some time anxiously monitoring every sneeze and cough and change in the already-normally-prolific river of snot and worrying about their ability to self-report symptoms.
So I'm in a mood, and if you come at me with some of your bodily medical autonomy bluster or rantings about how wearing a small piece of cloth is an unacceptable intrusion on your liberty or how vaccinations are an unheard-of level of imposition on freedom or your Joe Rogan-style internet "research" or schools should be open because all children don't ever get it-- well, I'm generally pretty good at listening to folks with a wide variety of ideas, but I'm just tired and out of patience with your bullshit.
[Update: Thanks to everyone who reached out to express concern. The twins were tested and cleared. My patience, however, remains at the same low level.]