We Are Numb to the Numbers

With mask requirements being lifted just about everywhere around the country, there is a general sense that the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

But as we begin the third year of the pandemic, that is far from being true.

The death toll in the United States from COVID breached 900,000 last week. As this is being written, almost 2500 Americans are dying each and every day from a COVID-19 infection.

Even if the death rate slows down in the weeks ahead, the one million mark almost certainly will be reached within the next two months.

Although the worst-case scenarios at the start of the pandemic in February, 2020, suggested that up to 1.7 million Americans could die from the disease, none of us really thought that would be possible.

And when the vaccines miraculously came along at the end of 2020, we assumed then that life would be returning to normal soon enough.

But life does not always follow the plan.

The resistance of millions of Americans to getting vaccinated threw a monkey-wrench into the war against COVID-19, with the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations attributable to the unvaccinated.

And although scientists all along have predicted that the virus would mutate, the speed with which the highly-transmissible Omicron variant swept through the world, even among the fully-vaccinated, caught everyone off-guard.

So where do we go from here?

Americans, as is the case with people across the globe, clearly have had it with restricting their lives because of COVID-19.

It seems that we’re entering a new phase of the pandemic — scientists refer to it now as an endemic disease, like the flu — which could be summed up this way: People still are dying in great numbers, but we don’t seem to care.

It’s a modern day version of, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

Or, in the words of the Cars’ rock anthem, “Let the good times roll.”

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