There’s a lot of good news about the pandemic right now. It can be hard to see, mostly because we are in a pandemic, which is overwhelmingly bad.
Even good news is hardly ever just … good. There is always the fact that people are still dying, getting hurt, left behind; always the fact that we frequently still have to either seal ourselves off from the virus and everyone, or brush up against some amount of risk, every day. Plus, as we have learned, the path of this pandemic has consistently surprised—there are still plenty of ifs and buts that might come along with a new drug or new variants that could throw things back off track. We might be headed for a dark winter and we just don’t know it yet.
But also, I have started to mentally tick off all the things that are, if you let the positive side soak in for a second, if you shush the relativelys and well actuallys, going really, really well. And as I prepare for another COVID winter, I need to keep those in mind. Maybe you do, too. So here is what I am dwelling on:
More than half of Americans are fully vaccinated. Nearly 1 million shots go into arms each day.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles issued a vaccine mandate, joining New York City in requiring anyone going to public indoor spaces to show proof that they’re inoculated.
New York’s Excelsior Pass, which stores vaccine proof in a QR code on your phone and stands in for a physical card, is blissfully easy to use.
The vaccine mandates, broadly, are working.
The mask mandate on planes, trains, and buses will extend at least through part of January, according to the Transportation Security Administration, which is very good for holiday travel.
We have an available COVID treatment that can be used for even mild cases and prevention, in monoclonal antibodies. We have another treatment on the way, maybe available in a few months, in a pill from Merck. These treatments can be seen as harm reduction strategies to save lives of people who won’t get vaccinated, and also help keep them out of hospital beds.
The Biden administration is investing billions of dollars in rapid home tests, which, said the White House’s COVID-19 coordinator, "puts us on track to quadruple the amount of at-home rapid tests available for Americans by December."
We are learning how to adjust our personal lives, and make our plans, around the evolving risks of the virus.
Yes, we are still in a pandemic. But we are, in some tangible ways, getting better at something very hard.