No longer new and hardly normal

​I spotted an article the other day where someone lamented the quickest way to shut down a discussion on the pandemic was to refer to “the new normal.”

How true, though I would argue “out of an abundance of caution” is a close second.

Any way you slice it, we are tired. Just how tired likely depends on where you live and how close to home COVID-19 has hit.

Here in West Virginia, we began to reopen the economy in late spring. Many were apprehensive, but it went fairly smoothly. I’m not a big fan of Gov. Jim Justice, but I do think his handling of the crisis has been above average. Right down to “F****** follow the guidelines.”

I am no denier. I am a firm believer in the science. And, while many were not personally touched by this thing in the early days, within my six degrees of separation, I was. It’s a lot easier to accept that something is dangerous if it touches your life, so I can understand, even if I can’t condone, those who thought it was overblown.

I’d like to think that I was a lot more proactive about COVID-19 safety than some. But I also felt we needed to get businesses as open as possible to preserve our livelihoods. So, we supported local businesses, and when restrictions eased, we took daytrips and weekend trips. I’m sure some may have disagreed with that decision, but you have to do what is right for you.

That’s an easy decision if the only person you put at risk is yourself, but that is not the nature of this deal. With COVID-19, you can be a spreader without even being aware of it. That’s why wearing a mask is such a simple thing for me to accept. I believe in personal freedom, but to borrow from Stan Lee, it comes great personal responsibility. That mask is a small price to pay to open things back up.

There is a certain irony to the fact that, just as some very promising vaccines are on their way, we are seeing a dangerous surge. Even in my own circle, the sickness and death are hitting a lot closer to home. Perhaps you have witnessed that, too. Contrary to popular belief that this thing would “just go away,” perhaps specifically on Nov. 4, numbers are shooting up, hospitals are feeling the brunt and some states are locking back down.

We are a resilient people, we Americans. Even though it went against the fabric of “who we are,” we, for the most part, accepted that first round of sheltering in place. It was our “public duty,” a sacrifice to relieve the pressure on our front-line workers until we got things under control. We didn’t like it, we complained about it, but we accepted to the best degree we were able the cancellation of school events, graduations, weddings, vacations, sports and so many other things.

But, when it comes to public trust, our nation’s governors had limited credit to spend. That has been used up, particularly in states like New York and Pennsylvania, which took far longer to ease restrictions. Even in California, as businesses are forced to close again, and people are told they can’t even socialize outside — masked — at a distance, people are asking, “why?” They are beginning to say, “no.”

And as numbers surge and businesses are forced to shutter again, our folks in Washington would rather play political games than reach consensus on aid. Fiddling, while Rome burns.

We are tired. Thanksgiving was an impossible ask. Christmas? Who are we even kidding? Nothing about this is “normal.”

Do what you are going to do, but now is not the time to let our guard down. To that end, here are a few wishes on my Christmas list:

  • Wear a mask, even if you question the effectiveness.
  • Don’t take out your anger on others.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms.
  • Take yourself out of circulation if you test positive or if you fear you might have been exposed.

This is a season that is supposed to be about kindness for our fellows. Embody that spirit.

We are all tired. Fighting this thing until it is in retreat gets us back to normal. Wishful thinking and denial do not.

Originally published at

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