Coronavirus cases occurring across the country. A cold, existential and literal, that sets in again. And now: a winter likely to be punctuated by a soundtrack of sirens instead of silver bells.
It was winter when the pandemic started, and it will be winter long before it is over. Tired and traumatized from months of death and imprisonment, mixed messages are being sent to Americans, from governments to their own internal clocks that run haywire in flattened time.
Shouldn’t it be over now? After all, vaccines are arriving. But before the average person gets vaccinated, winter will take its toll.
The holidays are at risk for those who can travel and spread the virus – and those who cannot and may suffer isolation. Small gifts of normalcy, such as personal schooling and indoor dining, are interrupted again. A new president will take over the helm of a deeply divided country. And belated accounting for social issues is progressing.
« We have to squat and get through this fall and winter because it won’t be easy, » said Dr. . Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, said back in September.
Winter is near now – a winter like no other in living American memory. And with his arrival on Monday, a nation is holding its breath.
« I think there’s a pretty common feeling that a lot of people feel like the world is falling apart, » says Monica Johnson, a New York psychologist who mostly cares for marginalized patients.
For months, activities such as socially distant slopes in parks and bike rides have been the social capital that has enabled many Americans to regain a semblance of pre-pandemic life. For example, New York’s CitiBike broke its monthly driver record in September, says a Lyft spokesman.
Winter is different. « Going outside » becomes a whole different act in the cold, and indoors – where winter naturally draws us when temperatures drop – the virus has spread most aggressively.
Appendix A: Public Transportation, usually a mainstay of American cities in bad and good conditions. The number of subway, bus, and mass transit systems has decreased this year.
Metropolitan Transit Authority bus operator Regan Weal has ridden three routes in Manhattan in the course of the pandemic that started out as « mentally exhausting, » she says. While both driver traffic and driver conditions have improved, it remains difficult. More than 130 MTA employees have died from COVID-related causes.
« I worry when it gets cold and now people want to be on the bus more because they don’t want to go to the train, » she says.
The novelist Laura Ingalls Wilder, chronicler of the American pioneering days, titled one of her « Little House » books « The Long Winter ». Barbara Mayes Boustead, an Omaha-based meteorology teacher at NOAA, used Wilder’s writing as inspiration to jointly develop the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index. ”
« In Laura’s story, winter is really the antagonist out there, the thing that prevents them from getting what they need. In the world we are in this year, I don’t know if COVID is the composite factor or the antagonist here, ”Mayes Boustead says. “It may be that COVID is the antagonist, and then winter, should it be severe in some places, could be a determining factor. «
This takes place in rural eastern Pennsylvania, where 52-year-old English teacher Kerry Palumbo went to work every day at Palmerton High School teaching a mix of face-to-face and virtual students. Palmerton, which Palumbo refers to as « like Brigadoon » because of its small-town character, has had many cases in the area due to its commuting culture and proximity to ski resorts.
All of Palumbo’s family – she has parents in their seventies, two kids in college, and siblings who do telework – were hoping to meet for Christmas.
« My biggest fear is that I’ll be the one to bring it to my family. I don’t know how I would handle the guilt if that happened, « she wrote in October. But by Thanksgiving break, her classroom had moved home in the midst of emerging cases in Carbon County, where it was more than $ 2 on Sunday night. There were 100 cases and 85 COVID deaths.
« None of us are as confident as we were before Thanksgiving that Christmas will be personal this year, » she wrote last week.
Rio Santisteban, 27, lives close enough to his workplace in New York City that he can usually only walk when he needs to go inside. Her pandemic experience was a « roller coaster ride » that has improved this summer. Winter is different: you have a seasonal affective disorder that typically manifests as mild depression.
« I’m losing the energy to go outside or see friends, » says Santisteban. “It will be a lot more difficult and intense, a lot more of a journey and a challenge to actually see people than just pull up and do nothing. ”
To deal with this, the administrative assistant has ordered a series of lights to ward off the darkness and will « soak up and freeze » them to see friends outside during the winter months.
This is in line with the recommendations of Alycia Scott, a psychologist who recommends that those battling SAD counter the tendency to become isolated. Scott has noted a growing « sense of impotence and inability to do anything, particularly due to the background of the coronavirus » in her patients, who are primarily black and tan.
She also recommends sun lamps for SAD patients. The manufacturers of light therapy lamps featured in the top consumer recommendations are reporting growing demand. One, Carex, has seen demand grow 180% since August compared to 2019, according to a spokesman.
Another type of lamp can withstand restaurants: heat lamps. In late September, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio extended the alfresco dining year-round and granted a lifeline sought by the New York City Hospitality Alliance. How many of the 27. 000 restaurants in the city have already closed permanently is unclear, but the city council’s office estimates that there are at least over 1. 200 are.
Restorer Philipipe Massoud of ilili, a Manhattan restaurant, lost more than two-thirds of its 180 employees during the pandemic, but stayed open until the pandemic got the indoor food under control again. He wasn’t sure he could withstand a second shutdown in the winter months.
« I never thought I would be a master of emotional elasticity, » he said before the new shutdown. “Wake up one day thinking I had nothing, the other day wake up and have all sorts of hopes and dreams that everything will be okay. And then on the third day I lose everything again. ”
Before Joe Biden was elected president, he warned, “We are about to face a dark winter. « After winning, he said he believed the Americans voted to » bring together the forces of science and hope in the great battles of our time. ”
With the introduction of vaccines, a tangible end – or at least a way forward – is in sight. Before that moment arrives, it is clear that, as Santisteban puts it, Americans must steer this « terrible, terrible winter that may or may not be terrible » – a winter that is dreaded, dreaded, undesirable, but tinged with hope.
Winter, Coronavirus, Associated Press
World News – USA – With winter coming, the virus is whipping up winds of uncertainty
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