Another day, another set of headlines about surges. And schools. And schools. And surges.
Covid Delta surges seem to last around 6–8 weeks. They are ramping up horribly in some new states (South Dakota, Ohio, Idaho, Maine) — but are slowly declining in Missouri, Oregon, Washington and others. These surges leave behind dazed exhausted healthcare workers, bereaved and ruined families, long-haul Covid and untold suffering, but they do ebb. Slowly.
Clearly, they can’t ebb soon enough. A lot of people are finding this Delta period exceptionally wearying, wanting things to go back to normal, just generally sick and tired of being asked to do hard things.
Some days it feels like we’re going to run out of coping skills and strength. Having schools start up during these surges is not helping one bit, fraying the last of our nerves.
I keep feeling like we’re in the middle of a brutally long ocean voyage.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how my ancestors immigrated here in the 1870s, sailing across the Atlantic. Whole families of Schoenthalers moved back then — entire villages in one crossing — and I picture them now, sitting in steerage, seasick and sick at heart, scared during storms, surrounded by an unpredictable sea, utterly uncertain about what would happen on the other side and when.
I keep wondering what people did in the middle of those trips — how did they keep their spirits up? How did they maintain some kind of backbone and grace when there was no assurance whatsoever about how long things would stay tough?
I wish I could ask my ancestors what helped them back then because we can sure use some good coping skills now.
One thing that is helping me is a personal “mainstream news fast policy”: I’ve stopped getting my Covid info from mainstream news outlets. At this point I essentially never watch the news and rarely read a paper.
My oldest son brought over a stack of newspapers from the start of the pandemic, and talk about scary headlines! No wonder we all felt so frazzled, our world was full of upper case shouting letters scaring us to death.
For me, it’s turned out that there’s been one too many inaccurate terrifying headlines and click-bait interpretations of every single twist and turn. At this point my personal policy is that I try to mostly get my info straight from the scientists.
I feel like the primary goal of scientists is completely different from the press: scientists want to amass the knowledge we need to quiet Covid down. Step by step, study by study, they go through the data and see what makes sense and then double check it and see if it still makes sense later as well.
If you, too, want to hear the science stuff and not the scary soundbites, you could try watching some of my faves on YouTube: Dr Daniel Griffin, Dr John Campbell, Dr Paul Klotman or the Zoe Project/Dr Tim Spector podcasts. Stanford and UCSF Medical Grand Rounds, too — all fabulous, super helpful, and sometimes really out of the box.
If you want to go deep, you can learn a ton of virology and a lot about how scientists think from the lengthy super-geeky chats by TWIV (This Week in Virology). MedCram is short and sweet and crammed (get it?) with info. Dr Michael Osterholm in Minnesota gives strong overviews in his earnest mid-west way.
On Facebook I learn lots from Nerdy Girls/Dear Pandemic and get great stats overviews from Friendly Neighbor Epidemiologist and Your Local Epidemiologist, and as a physician I’m guided by a host of Facebook Covid Physician groups. Plus there’s a gabillion smart scientists on Twitter gabbing away.
The act of watching scientific knowledge accumulate via these smart people keeps me sane and maybe more importantly, it keeps me optimistic. Scientists themselves are inherently bright-eyed and hopeful — they always think a solution is right around the corner if they just think creatively enough.