As the new Omicron form of Covid-19 rages out of control, every American is being forced to consider how much risk is acceptable in order to get the country back on its feet.
The country is being buried under an avalanche of new illnesses, yet after two exhausting, demoralising years, millions of people are more motivated than ever to find a way to live more normally with the sickness. Since the pandemic has reached its most contradictory phase yet, striking the appropriate balance is difficult.
Signs of a deepening winter crisis are popping up all over the place, even as new optimism emerges that a virus that wreaked havoc in the previous two years may not be as dangerous in its new shape. It’s also perplexing that, as hospitals fill, infection curves are shooting straight up in vertical lines, but many Americans who get Covid-19 for the first time dismiss it as a little cold.
The scenario has sparked debate in governors’ palaces, corporate boardrooms, schools, and living rooms from coast to coast, with President Joe Biden expected to address the rapid spread of Omicron on Tuesday.
There’s a lot of misunderstanding in schooling right now, which is driving parents crazy for the umpteenth time in this pandemic and threatening to bring big economic ramifications if critical workers can’t find child care.
Schools in Detroit, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Washington have been inundated by the virus and have reverted to virtual learning or postponed classes for at least a few days following the holiday break. Dr. James Versalovic, head pathologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, said Monday that the number of children with Omicron in his wards is “staggering.”
On the same day, newly sworn-in New York City Mayor Eric Adams brags about his “swagger” and tells the Big Apple — where infections are on the rise — not to “wallow in Covid,” mocking teachers who want to be treated the same way their colleagues in other areas who are going virtual.