Corona means crown or crownlike structure, and it is the gaseous outer rim of a star, normally visible only during a total solar eclipse, as shown in today’s featured photograph.
This past year, we’ve learned much more than we ever wanted to know about coronaviruses, and one in particular, that which causes the Covid-19 illness, the source of our current global pandemic. Millions of people have been sickened, many have died, many have recovered, and still others, the “long haulers” are impacted by ongoing symptoms, their lives significantly altered for the foreseeable future. There have been huge shutdowns, of travel, businesses, schools, offices.
In many ways, I’ve been extremely fortunate. I didn’t get sick, nor did my partner BA. As of today, I am two weeks past my second vaccine dose, so I’m now considered fully protected from severe illness. I am grateful, and I also acknowledge my privilege. I live in the US, which while the lack of an appropriate public health response by the previous administration was appalling to say the least and cost hundreds of thousands of lives unnecessarily, there are also sufficient resources to allow for vaccination to be happening at a fairly rapid rate. Room for improvement certainly, and it’s largely getting done.
However, despite the privilege, there has been a toll. I personally knew people who have died from this illness, some “high risk” based on advanced age or health conditions, and one a young man with no known underlying risk factors, and who was very careful to avoid exposure. As a retired family physician and current trauma therapist, I well know that there is no such thing as safe or risk free, and that life is a universally fatal condition. This is a concept that many of us have great difficulty with. It’s very easy for us to imagine that if we do everything “right”, then difficulties and tragedy won’t befall us. And from this follows the belief that if something “bad” occurs, either we or someone else has failed. As much as I might wish this to be the case, it just isn’t so. Yes, we can always learn from experience, and by studying our failures as well as successes, we can gain knowledge and grow. This has happened a lot during the pandemic.
Medicine has improved at treating Covid-19 over this past year. Not everyone survives, but more do now than did at the pandemic’s start. Some treatments have been proven, others disproven. That less than a year after the pandemic was declared there are several effective vaccines available is nothing short of amazing to me. Biotech has done well. And on a much less glamorous front, we’ve discovered that face masks, even simple ones reduce transmission of disease. Not only Covid-19, but influenza and the common cold (also often caused by a different coronavirus). An unanticipated outcome of this pandemic is the recognition that masks do protect from many airborne illnesses. Many folks of all ages are pleased to recognize that they haven’t had their usual colds, sinus infections and flus.
And then, there are the deniers. “It’s just a minor flu, only the sick and old get it, masks don’t work, they infringe on my rights” . Yadda, yadda, yadda. Denial is a common approach to that which we don’t want to be true, and is, at least in this country, often stoked by the fear mongers, selling the falsehood that all change is bad, largely on the political right. It thrives on an us versus them and victim mentality, and has been surprisingly successful, so it continues. It is my fervent hope that this is being recognized for the manipulative danger it is and perhaps it will change. The hard cores won’t change, they are too far out on a limb to countenance a change, and the power mongers who profit certainly won’t, but others may show the ability to wake up and learn. Increasing public acceptance of vaccination is giving me some hope that indeed the spell may be breaking up, if only on its periphery.
It’s been a very painful and challenging few years, exposing so many systemic failures, from public health to institutionalized racism, greed and a glorification of violence. And, as with the solar corona seen only during a total eclipse, sometimes we do indeed need darkness to show us what is next. From this, I take hope, as well as action. Peace and healing to us all.
Written for today’s A to Z challenge of C and Friday’s Ragtag Daily prompt of Patience.