April 3, 2021

here’s a weird disconnect going on in my head at the moment. There’s the part of me that is starting to believe that the pandemic is nearing an end, that things will continue to open up, that the US of four million vaccines administered a day and a rapid fall in cases from the highs of December and January will continue into a golden summer of everything is all right. Then there’s the part of me that actually looks at the data that the media is downplaying. The numbers of cases are roughly the same as they were during last summer’s second surge; it just seems much lower coming after the huge numbers of this past winter. Mortality hasn’t surged the way it has in the past. I assume this is because more cases are in younger and healthier people as vaccine has been distributed more widely among the elderly and the chronically ill but I really don’t know.

There are worrying trends from elsewhere around the globe. France and Italy are both going back into lockdown in certain areas due to spikes in cases. Brazil, thanks to the Covid denialism rampant in their executive branch, has a heatlh system on the verge of total collapse. More and more variants keep cropping up as large pools of unvaccinated individuals keep propogating virus giving it a chance to mutate and a number of the variants appear to be more infectious than the original. None of them has yet proved to be more lethal but it’s a definite possibility that will happen. As long as a more lethal strain remains covered by the current vaccines, we will be OK.

Alabama’s mask mandate expires on Friday and our governor will not renew it. I’m going to keep wearing mine, mandate or not, as it’s still the right thing to do until the vast majority of the population has been able to be vaccinated. At the rate we’re going, that shouldn’t take a whole lot longer. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do about the portion of the population disinterested in being vaccinated for whatever reason. If it were a very small percentage of the population, it wouldn’t matter as herd immunity would protect the group as a whole, but if it remains the current 30% or so, that falls apart and all we have is a significant population which can keep reintroducing virus variants into the population at large.

Gaiety or gloom, which should I focus on? On both? On neither? I’d prefer the former but I’ve been around too long to ever let the latter go unattended. Bad things are just part and parcel of the world at large and ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. The gaiety side at the moment includes the CDC statement from late this week that it is safe for fully vaccinated individuals to travel domestically. I can now take my planned trip to Seattle free of guilt. I’m still thinking of driving and making it a two week road trip but haven’t completely made up my mind. I have Delta credits from plane fares for trips canceled by the pandemic which I could use instead. Other happy things include Pirates of Penzance which is coming together quite nicely. Masks make it hard to sing and Covid safety protocols make the staging odd at best but we’ve made it through six weeks together with no one getting sick. I can’t say I’ll look forward to rehearsing again in a parking garage, especially in an Alabama spring. Rehearsals have had ambient temps anywhere from the high 30s to the low 80s.

Penelope at her loom

I was part of a Zoom play reading tonight of a play retelling the story of Odysseus from Penelope’s point of view, playing one of the vile suitors who eventually gets his comeuppance once Odysseus returns to Ithaca after his twenty year absence. I’m hoping that some of this kind of work, that allows a cast to be gathered from around the country, continues once the pandemic is past. It allows performers to experiment in some new ways which are rather freeing. The first half of the Tartuffe I filmed has dropped if you’ve ever wanted to see me in a baroque wig. I rather enjoy classical theater and I hope I get to do some more of it as live performance begins to open up again.

I’m trying to think of an amusing anecdote or other fun and pithy thing to write about as I finish this entry in the Accidental Plague Diaries up but nothing is coming to mind. Maybe I should do a few more columns on basic geriatric medicine. Perhaps I should go through my experiences and write down all of the weird little things from my past that I haven’t yet shared and start ticking through them. I’ll take suggestions from the floor.

On a not unrelated note, the book manuscript I have drawn from these Accidental Plague Diaries is finally finished. I need a few early readers to browse the manuscript and give me some feedback before its final polish. To be one of them you must be 1) Local to me in Birmingham so I can deliver you a copy. 2) Willing to read it relatively quickly (it need not be cover to cover – skimming is allowed). 3) Be willing to discuss the answers to a few simple questions with me. If this is you, drop me a message.

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