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Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021

2021! It’s a great feeling to open that new planner, so fresh, so clean, and so full of promise. It won’t stay empty long. Later today I’ll place the new one and the old one side by side and start writing in the appointments and reservations that have already been made (not very many of those) and the birthdays and anniversaries that come around every year (thankfully, quite a few of those).

In between all of those early entries lie blank spaces which I face with apprehension and hope. In them a story will begin to unfold. There was a time when the years flowed along–the years of family life and work, when time off was precious and we planned around school schedules and work commitments. Not any more. The last five years had distinct characteristics.

  • 2015: when every day revolved around the medical care of my husband and my dad
  • 2016: when a changing life convinced the two of us to move into a continuing-care retirement community
  • 2017: a year of loss and searching, moving out alone, buying a house, constant coming and going
  • 2018: seeking and processing: writing a book about the caregiving experience. Travel and choir
  • 2019: external involvement: family weddings, family trips, joining a new church and a new choral group

Doesn’t it make a tidy narrative when you put it that way? Then along comes 2020 with a new virus. Or rather an existing virus who managed to invent a pattern of mutations that earned it a new name “SARS-CoV-2” and enabled it to cause a disease in humans called “COVID-19”. Bad news depicted as a gray orb studded with ominous red spikes. Very contagious–enough to halt travel within countries as well as between them, enough to change the patterns of trade and exchange, enough to make people cautious about going out, enough to shut down businesses, entertainment, celebrations, singing, smiles, and hugs. In short, able to eliminate the very connectedness that make us human.

Lethal, but not lethal enough to inspire the fear that Ebola did. Capable of causing long-term damage. Capable of generating mutation patterns to hasten its spread. It’s too soon to sum up the impact of the 2020 Pandemic on our lives, our world, and our humanity. Too soon to know how having vaccines will change things. Here in southern California the virus is very much still with us.

My first priority in the new year will be to catch up on the newsletters which have been piling up in my mailbox while I’ve been indulging in the Christmas/New Year’s Eve holidays. Here are some of the items I see in my emails:

  • NIH Newsletter study uncovers blood vessel damage and inflammation in COVID-19 patients’ brains but no infection
  • CIDRAP Newsletter: COVID antibodies may fend off reinfection for 6 months, Researchers highlight sharp drop in US COVID-19 death rates.
  • Johns Hopkins Newsletter: Long-Term Health Effects, Worldwide vaccine rollouts, UK SARS-CoV-2 Variant and policy responses.

And there’s more. It’s 2021 and I’m digging into the research.

In the meantime, Happy New Year.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“As COVID-19 hospitalizations rise, Mission Viejo health care workers beg community for support,” Eyewitness News, ABC-7, Jan. 1, 2021. https://abc7.com/oc-covid-update-cases-hospitalizations-providence-mission-hospital/9268543/

“Japan’s geishas feeling the impact of coronavirus pandemic,” CNN, Jan 3, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2021/01/03/japan-geishas-covid-19-pandemic-impact-wang-pkg-intl-vpx.cnn

“More contagious COVID-19 strain identified in 3 states and 33 countries: What to know,” USA Today, Jan. 2, 2021. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/01/02/new-covid-strain-b-117-explained/4112125001/

New Information Sites on Vaccines

“COVID-19 vaccines are here.” “Vaccinate All 58” –Counties in California, that is. See the latest on the California website: https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/

See the CDC’s latest on vaccines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the pandemic experience from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

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