Prayers, faithful readers. I appeal for your prayers not for my health, but my sanity.
I tested positive for COVID-19 two days after Christmas. My symptoms are thankfully mild, courtesy of my di-jab of Moderna or the relative weakness of the Omicron variant. Either way, my final stocking stuffer was more unpleasant than coal: not for the nagging, whuffly cough it bestowed upon my lungs but having to quarantine with two sick kids, who are, blessedly, less ill than their hapless father.
So, again, ora pro me, if only for having to endure the “Frozen” duology for the umpteenth time. Hearing Kristen Bell struggle for high notes any more may induce mania.
I should count myself lucky, though. In fact, we all should in 2022’s early going. If you weren’t struck by COVID over the holidays, you probably know someone who was. Omicron was the hottest Christmas gift not delivered by Amazon. Yet, despite the U.S. breaking multiple single-day positive case count records, hospitals are not overrun, except by hypochondriacs with a sniffle. COVID severity appears to be under control. Even Dr. Fauci, who has treated the pandemic as his ring of power and prestige, is now deemphasizing the virus’s effect on child hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have relaxed isolation guidance in the face of worker shortages.
After two years of sky-falling-five-alarm focus on flattening the curve, our political leaders are starting to accept that zero-COVID is a pipe dream.
All the lockdowns, mandates, forced sequestering, school closures, and overall curtailment on socializing are now seen as iatrogenic. “The Students Returned, but the Fallout From a Long Disruption Remained” was an actual New York Times headline—not an ignored rant in a conservative organ like the Federalist or Washington Examiner. Colorado’s Democratic governor has declared the pandemic “over.”
Even Fauci is being conciliatory. “One of the things we want to be careful of is that we don’t have so many people out,” he told CNN, in a rare acknowledgement of economic reality. “We want to get people back to jobs—particularly those with essential jobs to keep our society running smoothly.”
Had Fauci said the same thing a year ago, he’d be denounced as a blinkered crank under the influence of MAGAism by the Twitter class. Now he’s being lauded as reasonable, except by a handful of self-righteous triple-masked, tri-vaccinated homebodies who want a moral excuse to wear pajamas forever.
COVID fatigue is finally settling in. Of course, many on the right were well over the gathering proscriptions by the summer of 2020. But it took another 18 months and a few vaccines to get the rest of the country on board. That’s often how freedom works: a small band of liberty ideologues demands it before the rest of society comes around.
“It’s impossible to ignore the fact that the Omicron wave—and the reactions to Omicron from officials—has emboldened a group of Americans who were never really Anti-Vax but are now very, very Vaxxed And Done With All Of This,” tweeted The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson.
This Donenis Covidis genus is reminiscent of Donald Warren’s “Middle American Radicals.” The “MARS” believe the government caters disproportionately to both the upper and lower classes. Their resentment can be applied to how government at all levels responded to COVID. The moneyed elite have weathered the pandemic-pause by blowing ample amounts of disposable income on app-delivered everything, while the poor have been sustained with generous pandemic subventions. It’s the middle class, balancing the thankless balance of shepherding their kids through virtual class while doing their own job remotely, who’ve had life most upended by capricious COVID closures.
And they’re sick of the didact-less remote “learning,” empty Target shelves, Tide price jumps, and being called grandma génocidaires for wanting something resembling “normalcy.” They dutifully got their shots in exchange for doffing the masks, only to be told “just kidding!” So they’re at a boil and ready to spill at the mere mention of renewed closedowns, especially for schools.
Were I conspiracy prone, I’d postulate that the Biden Administration, feeling both electoral pressure and the weight of infection data, decided to simply let the virus rip over Christmas, counting on the attenuated strand to infect and bolster mass immunity without a concomitant rise in deaths. Schools would already be closed; middle class professionals would be on PTO. Why not hold the equivalent of a nationwide chickenpox party and get it over with? It would be a gamble, but so was crossing the Delaware and splitting the atom.
Whatever the case, Omicron has shown the limits of what the federal government can do to actually pen in respiratory virii. It’s also shown the extent of what normal, law abiding citizens are willing to put up with in the name of public health. Perhaps we should ditch the appellation “Omicron” for this ultra-infectious, non-threatening variant and dub it the Logikós strand, because it’s finally infecting our overstretched, harried, and battered discourse with some rationality.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, à la Andrew Sullivan, and declare 2022 the year of post-COVID jubilation. But the bluest of Marx groupies just ditched her mandate-happy metro and spirited off to restriction-free Magic City.
When even Marxists tire of over-collectivization and punitive mandates, that’s a welcome sign for the new year.