COVID-19

Spring is here, spring is here, life is skittles and life is beer

I’m off to get my second shot of the Moderna vaccine this afternoon. I’ve heard from several people that they didn’t feel well the next day. In anticipation, I’ve taken tomorrow off. If I feel bad, I’ll lounge about the house and rest. Otherwise I will probably grab a camera and go on a long photo walk. I just got my Pentax KM back from Eric Hendrickson, who repaired it after it was damaged in a fall. I’m itching to put some film through it.

One of my sons works in a plant that manufactures the Moderna vaccine, so I’m happy that’s the vaccine I got. He’s been working a lot of overtime as the plant meets demand. Not long ago I tried to work out a time when I could see him, but we couldn’t find a time that worked for both of us. “I’m just too busy saving the world,” he said, nonchalantly.

Now that Margaret and I are in the vaccination process, we’ve expanded our bubble a little to include some family members who are also in the vaccination process or are vaccinated. I sat in my brother’s condo Tuesday night and shared a whiskey and conversation with him. Margaret’s sister was in town recently and we had her in one evening. We recognize that the vaccine doesn’t eliminate risk, and we know our understanding of the risk is based on good but incomplete information. We’re comfortable with our choices.

We made it through the winter! Spring has arrived in Indiana. Our tulips are up and the callery pear trees are in full, flower, their rotting-shrimp scent in the air. It’s been a little chillier than normal for this time of year, but there have been a couple evenings warm enough for us to walk over to the Mexican restaurant near our home and enjoy a meal on their patio. That was so welcome! I stayed home all winter, except to do the family shopping and to walk the neighborhood. I was starting to feel cabin fever.

I took our bikes to a bike shop for a tuneup. Margaret has a nice Trek bike and of course I’m still riding my old Schwinn three speed. Mine needs new brakes and tires too. I chose a shop I’ve not used before, a little family-run place right by Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, which is one of my favorite photographic haunts. I lucked out — the technician I spoke with went to Schwinn school 40 years ago to learn to service bikes just like mine, and he had gumwall tires in stock to fit my bike. Schwinn uses an odd tire size, and lots of bike shops don’t bother stocking it. Last time I got new tires, ten years ago, they couldn’t find gumwall tires so they sold me solid black. The bike looks just that little bit more authentic with gumwalls. Here’s a photo of my Schwinn from 2009, shortly after I bought it from a Craigslist seller. Those gumwall tires are probably the originals from 1986, when the bike was manufactured.

1986 Schwinn Collegiate

The bikes should be done in a couple weeks, at about which time temperatures should consistently be above 60 degrees during the day for comfortable riding. I know people who put on layers of cold-weather gear and keep riding even in freezing temperatures. I am not among them! I ride in warm weather only.

But as spring emerges, Indiana has done away with its mask mandate. It looks like our Republican governor bowed to mounting pressure within his own party. Some counties immediately announced that they would retain the mask mandate, but others, including the one in which I live, are following state guidelines. I went to the chiropractor on Wednesday and none of the employees wore masks. I don’t know just yet how best to respond to situations like this.

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COVID-19

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s small and distant

The winter COVID-19 spike appears to be ending in Indiana. With vaccines currently being administered, could that be a light we see at the end of this tunnel?

Source: https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/2393.htm, February 15, 2021

Maybe it is, but that light is small and distant. The tunnel remains long.

The CDC recommends that vaccinated people continue to stay home as much as possible, and mask up and remain physically distanced otherwise, until enough people are vaccinated that we have herd immunity.

That made no sense to me at first. If you’re vaccinated, aren’t you immune? Can’t you go back to a normal life? But then I learned that we don’t have enough experience with the vaccines yet to know whether they keep you from catching the virus. We know for sure only that the vaccine makes you unlikely to become sick with it. After you’re vaccinated, you might still be able to carry and spread the virus! That’s why the CDC is telling us to continue to stay home as much as we can, and mask up and remain physically distanced when we can’t, until enough people are vaccinated that we have herd immunity.

I experienced this as a punch to the gut. I was dreaming about living life more freely after my vaccination. Specifically, I was looking forward to taking my wife out for dinner, and going to visit my kids in their homes!

I must continue to wait, as it will take considerable time to administer the vaccine to everyone. In Indiana, we’ve already taken care of people like healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents, police officers and firefighters, and the like. The state is now administering the vaccine by age, starting with the oldest first. People 80 and older went first, then people 70 to 79. They’re currently vaccinating people 65 to 69; people 60 to 64 are next. If this five-year grouping pattern holds, I’ll be in the second group to follow. Given the rate of vaccination, that could be a couple months yet, maybe more. I’ve heard optimistic estimates that all of Indiana could be vaccinated by midsummer, but I don’t share that optimism. Unless we’re able to dramatically ramp up the available doses and the infrastructure to deliver them, I think it will be late this year before the job is done. Perhaps then we can ease these restrictions and live a more normal life.

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