Kemmeter Column: When will the next ‘real’ summer come?
By GENE KEMMETER
The “unofficial end of summer” is here with the arrival of Labor Day, marking the end of the second straight year where we really didn’t have a summer; that is, the usual summer of years gone by.
The last two years have been filled with fear and trepidation as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to persist as the more dangerous Delta variant surges to claim new victims.
The summer of 2020 was basically a washout, as most seasonal events canceled their activities rather than expose residents to the potential of catching the disease that has claimed more than 660,000 lives in the United States alone, and millions worldwide.
The summer of 2021 brought new hope as the number of infections declined after the development of vaccines to combat the scourge. The nation and others around the world rejoiced as millions became vaccinated, and authorities began to relax mandates as the number of new cases started to decline.
Previously canceled events were scaled back and rescheduled, while others were delayed in hopes of having safer conditions later in the year. With events back on the calendar, people were getting back together like it was 2019, celebrating that the world had conquered the disease that had, in essence, nearly closed down the world in 2020.
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, reported this year that most people who have COVID recover completely within a few weeks. But some people, even those who had mild versions of the disease, continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery.
Those people sometimes describe themselves as “long haulers,” and their health issues are sometimes called post-COVID-19 conditions, effects of the disease that persist for more than four weeks after diagnosis.
The Clinic said common signs and symptoms that linger over time include fatigue; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; cough; joint, testicular or chest pain; memory, concentration or sleep problems; muscle pain or headache; fast or pounding heartbeat; loss of smell or taste; depression or anxiety; fever; dizziness when standing; lasting damage to the heart muscle; long-standing damage to the lungs; strokes, seizures and temporary paralysis; and blood clots and blood vessel problems.
Mayo Clinic said “much is still unknown about how COVID will affect people over time, but research is ongoing. Researchers recommend that doctors closely monitor people who have had COVID-19 to see how their organs are functioning after recovery,” and large medical centers are opening specialized clinics to provide care.
“It’s important to remember that most people who have COVID-19 recover quickly,” the clinic reported. “But the potentially long-lasting problems make it even more important to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following precautions.”
However, the vaccination effort has fallen short of the minimum of 75 to 80 percent vaccinated that is needed to achieve herd immunity since the first of the year, and new COVID variants emerged, particularly the more dangerous Delta variant.
The more contagious Delta variant has led authorities to again impose many precautions to protect against the spread of the disease. Those precautions include wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds, getting a vaccine when available and keeping hands clean.
Many of those precautions have been with us since the start, although many people fail to follow them. We’re all growing tired of them. We’ve gone through two summers now, and COVID fatigue is just getting worse.
No one really wants to wear a mask in a store or other business, but store owners and operators need to protect their employees from the disease. They’re having a hard time finding employees as it is. Some churches continue to require masks, perhaps a sign that God wants to protect his flock.
It seems we’re living in a Hollywood horror movie where everyone is told not to go outside the house or death will get you. We’re sick of being told over and over again not to do so, so we just ignore the warnings and go out…
How many more summers are we going to have to endure with restrictions before we conquer this disease? Medical experts tell us the quickest way is to follow the above listed precautions, with getting a vaccine to achieve herd immunity around the world the best bet.
The fall and winter will be the test. Let’s hope we can get the virus under control so our loved ones will be around to enjoy the summer of 2022.