Arts Hudson

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Coronicles 4 - Living with COVID
Tales from the Great Pandemic
by Art MacDonald

As he wrote in Coronicles 1 - Tales from the Great Pandemic, Art usually writes in the first person but he is still finding the need to socially distance himself and will therefore write in the third person - third minus first: there's your two meters social distancing right there.

Coronicles are COVID-related stories that Art has heard or read and that he thinks are worth repeating.

Back to the New Normal

So, how's your return to normal life been? This past spring we were wrestling COVID to the ground (see Coronicles 3 below) and we were going to be maskless by Labour Day. Then Delta struck and we're lucky not to be in a lockdown (yet). And we're still at the beginning of the Greek alphabet - there's room for many more variants. On a more cheerful note, Quebec has morphed from worst-in-class to a top performer as far as vaccinations, new cases and deaths go. Apparently we trust our government. Art wonders why this should be so but there we are.

Art was doing his usual shtick the other day, making fun of the pandemic, when a lady said to him, "It's not funny." "No," her husband chimed in. "It's very serious." Yes, it is, but Art's always been the kind of guy who thinks it's healthy to find humour in the most serious situations. Art has always been cheerful, in a "It's darkest before things turn jet black," "The light at the end of the tunnel is an approaching train," "Life is tough and then you die," kind of way. He thinks humour can prevent people from falling into the dark, morose pit of self-pity that the pandemic experience can become. Things could be worse - the Internet might stop working.

We Can Travel

Art's been to New Brunswick recently and showed his proof of vaccination to the New Brunswick officials manning the new border post between Quebec and New Brunswick. Apparently we'll soon need vaccine passports as well as real passports to travel anywhere, although New Brunswick seems to have stopped checking for vaccinations. Art thinks vaccine passports are a terrible idea on so many levels, one being that they are easy to forge and so will limit the activities of honest people who are reluctant to get the vaccine while the more unscrupulous unvaccinated will get a free pass. IT guys tell Art that they could produce a "proof of vaccination" identical to the government issued one in a few minutes on their computer. In the US, where some people need COVID tests and vaccinations, fake test results and vaccination cards are already being shipped in bulk from China. Why would it be different here?

So the U.S, is still keeping its borders closed to Canadians while Canada is allowing Americans in. This makes a lot of sense because Americans have a comparatively high rate of infection while Canada's is still very low. Oh, wait - it actually makes no sense at all. We're letting in people who are likely to be infected while they're keeping out people who are likely healthy. Was this another of Trudeau's brilliant ideas? Art is definitely not voting for the guy. Oh, wait, again. Who else is there? Maybe if we vote NDP we'll get a minority government again, not the worst outcome.

We Can Party

Yup, small parties are allowed again. Art went to one and thinks the limits were any number of people from three different households or up to ten people from any number of households. When Art sees such rules, he always has visions of civil servants in their offices (or now on Zoom) writing these rules. Typically Jean would say, "Hey Paul, do we go with three or four households and will it be ten or twelve people?" Paul yells over, "Anne-Marie, can you roll those dice again - go with one die for the households and two dice for the number of people." "Ok, we're going with three and ten."

Living with COVID

But there's no rush. People are still cautious, especially now that cases are slowly rising again. And the vaccines seem to Art to be a bit of a dud. They're only good for about six months, you can still be infected and you can still spread the virus. The key benefit, which is also a good reason to get vaccinated after all, is that your COVID infection will be less severe. So that's what living with COVID means: we'll all be vaccinated and get periodic booster shots while every now and then catching a mild COVID infection. And that's the good news.

So Art was wondering, how come these vaccines don't work as well as, say, the polio vaccine. The answer seems to be that you can't get the polio-type of vaccination for a respiratory disease. Vaccinations for viruses that are spread through close contact or bodily fluids can work like the polio vaccine but flus, colds and COVID are different. With respiratory diseases like COVID, the virus can still infect the nose and throat mucous membranes of vaccinated people and spread from there. If the virus tries to get into your blood stream or other organs, the immune response from the vaccines neutralizes it and keeps it from causing a more serious sickness.

Art did think he was done with Coronicles after the last one but it looks like there's more material on the horizon. Maybe Art will watch the movie "Groundhog Day" again. It sure feels just like August 2020, but just like Bill Murray in the movies, we could all do without a repeat of last year. Stay safe, saty well and remember to be kind to your maskless, unvaccinated neighbour.