These are the dark days of winter, made darker in 2022 by the surge of infections brought on by a highly contagious variant of COVID-19, made darker because after the remarkably rapid development of vaccines there was reason to believe the battle against the virus could be brought to an end.
That it hasn’t worked out that way, and the prospect now that we may be contending against COVID for a long time to come, if not always, is a most dispiriting recognition. Gina Morgenstein recently wrote in these pages about how the ongoing crisis has affected her and her family. A health-care worker, her experience has been so drastic she was compelled to resign from her position as a Wallingford town councilor.
Since the onset of the pandemic I’ve considered myself extremely fortunate, being among those who have been able to keep jobs and work from home, for one. But as the pandemic drags on I’ve found myself wondering about its more subtle impacts. As in, what are the long-term effects of extended isolation? Or, just as worrisome: What are the long-term effects of persistent uncertainty?
One of the things I’ve been sure about is that the last thing I want is to infect others. Maybe that’s the second to last thing. The first is not getting infected in the first place.
But they go hand-in-hand. Over the past few weeks I’ve had a couple of experiences where symptoms I would once have dismissed as nothing to worry about (if I bothered to entertain that thought at all) were also potential symptoms of COVID. And so I got tested, or self-tested, or both. After a recent experience, just the other day, I told a friend: “I am so sick of this.”
I would also say that leadership from the top has been sorely absent, repeatedly sabotaged by the partisan bickering that has characterized national politics now for far too long. COVID has helped reveal how damaging this is.
So, where can one go for bolstering, if not inspiration? Certainly health-care workers and first responders. Certainly teachers and others in education who I’ve regarded as heroes all along. But there are others who might not typically come to mind.
Margaret Boland is a resident of Masonicare at Ashlar Village, the independent and assisted living complex in Wallingford. She’d read a 2020 article in the Cheshire Herald, an R-J Media outlet, about how the Cheshire Food Pantry needed paper bags. You wouldn’t think a food pantry needed paper bags, at least I didn’t, but when you think about it it becomes obvious. Boland put the word out, asking residents do donate the bags that were coming with meals delivered to doors.
The response was overwhelming. As the Record-Journal’s Faith Williams reported, Boland has since donated 4,500 bags, bringing about 700 every time.
The Record-Journal has been extremely attentive to these types of stories. The news organization is obviously committed to its watchdog role, but this type of coverage also makes a difference.
I worry about young people. The R-J’s Williams also recently wrote about PeaceSelah Lopez, a 17-year-old student at Wallingford’s Lyman Hall High School who is using her music and an independent study project to spread the word about peace. In the fall, the artist, who goes by PEACExLOPEZ, released a song called “Tell Your Friends,” that encourages people to tell friends they’re proud of them, something teenagers need to hear in the midst of the pandemic.
I’d recommend keeping an eye out for these stories. You’ll find them. In the midst of all our difficulties it’s important to remember that this is who we are, too.
Reach Jeffery Kurz at firstname.lastname@example.org.