Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic took over our lives more than a year ago, there has been a distinct lack of certainty—a lack of certainty about when we would return to school or to work, when we would gain access to the vaccine, what activities would even be safe to do.
Now that the vaccine has become available to the general public ages 16 and older and COVID cases in California are dropping, it seems that the world is slowly turning back to normal. Businesses are opening back up, restaurants have resumed indoor dining, and people are able to participate in more activities than they have in a year. Yet, at least for me, the uncertainty remains.
I trust vaccines and the science behind them and was absolutely ecstatic to get the vaccine myself. Despite this, for some reason, I can’t seem to get the little voice out of my head that says I’m still in danger.
I work in a fast-food restaurant that, according to state guidelines, reopened for indoor dining at 50% capacity just a few weeks ago. My grandparents are asking to come over to my house because they now have the vaccine too. My friend says that we can now meet up without our masks. I want to welcome this change, but everything seems to be moving so fast.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see society moving forward, working to rebuild after all of the damage that COVID-19 has caused. I would love to hug my friends and grandparents again, to see people in person without fear that they or I would pass on a deadly virus. I want that so badly.
But I can’t shake the fear that everything is coming too soon. Maybe it’s plain anxiety, maybe it’s unfounded fear. And like everything else to do with the pandemic, there is no certainty on whether or not it’s safe to start opening up again the way that things are. The CDC has released guidelines on what vaccinated people can do, including spend time together indoors, yet there is still a voice in my head warning me of danger.
President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that data and “good clinical common sense” will help determine guidelines for what vaccinated people can do. Clearly, “good clinical common sense” is an objective black-and-white definition that outlines exactly what guidelines to follow. To make everything even more clear Robert Horsburgh, an epidemiologist at the Boston University School of Public Health said, “We’re, hopefully, in between what I hope will be the last big wave, and the beginning of the period where I hope COVID will become very uncommon. But we don’t know that.”
I understand the virus is still new and that the vaccines have yet to reach the majority of the population, leading to a shortage of answers and clarity from research and professionals. But at the end of the day, it’s disheartening. If the experts aren’t even sure if we should be opening up, why should I be?
I understand the dire need for people to once again have in-person human connections and for businesses to re-open. I know how important these are to our emotional well-being and economy, the very foundations of our society. However, with a lack of research to fully support reopening and the vague wording provided by professionals, my fears remain.
I want to remain optimistic, and I wholeheartedly believe that there is a light at the end of this long, aggravating tunnel. As of now, with governments and businesses pushing towards a quick total reopening, I cannot see this light. I am still anxious about being around people, still nervous I will pass on a deadly virus. So forgive me, if I am not entirely optimistic as of yet. Change will come, I am just not quite sure that phrases like “the end of the pandemic” or “now that COVID is over” are applicable yet.