Today is my pandemic anniversary.
One year ago, on St. Patrick’s Day, the word went out from the administration at the community college that everyone should go home. The World Health Organization had declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, but there hadn’t been any cases in St. Clair County yet. The local health department started to get reports of positive cases on Monday the 16th, and the next day that news filtered out to businesses and organizations. It was time to err on the side of caution and start figuring out how to work from home.
My son, who also works at the college, and I drove home just after lunchtime. We hadn’t eaten yet, so we stopped at Burger King in St. Clair. I had a Whopper with cheese, some fries, and a large Diet Coke. It was the last restaurant food I’ve eaten since then, which means another 365 day streak as of today.
I don’t think most of us thought we’d be gone for very long. Many people were talking about a couple of weeks, maybe a month, and I recall agreeing with that, not so much because I had any real insight into what might happen, but probably because there was nothing in my lifetime to compare it to. The idea that one year later I’d still be working from home almost completely (I can go into the office, but nobody’s there so it’s just as effective to do the fifteen-foot commute to my home office) was ludicrous. It still is.
Fortunately, things appear to be getting better, and rather quickly. I was able to get my first COVID vaccine this afternoon (I’ll return next month for the second shot). The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine I received has a efficacy rate of over 90 percent, but more importantly, even if I contract COVID after having both shots, my chance of serious illness from the virus will drop to nearly zero. So it appear that COVID will become no more dangerous to me than a cold or a mild case of the flu.
Then it’ll be time to stop by Burger King again!