Transferring towards the ‘Goldilocks’ consolation stage with COVID-19 | Opinion

I have never listened to Joe Rogan.

I’ve heard a few Neil Young songs over the years, but I am not a fan.

I don’t make my health decisions based on a for-profit entertainment venue or the value systems of celebrities.

I am also in one of what the fine folks at the Centers for Disease Control define as a “high risk group” as I’m closing in on 66 years of age.

I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve signed up for a booster, and I’ve never had a COVID test.

At least two days a week I spend a significant time around someone whose immune system is compromised. I’m careful to take precautions.

I wear a mask when required to go into stores, restaurants, other offices, or to meet someone face-to-face for an interview.

In public places where masks aren’t required and I’m going to be in close proximity to someone I always try to remember to ask if they want me to put on my mask. That is particularly true when they are wearing a mask.

My original aversion to donning a mask is long gone.

Mine wasn’t a “don’t tread on me” reaction although I get the sentiment.

It happened perhaps the 14th time I had a mask on in March 2020. It was the first time being masked while having needles in both arms during a platelet donation. I suddenly had a sensation that last popped up when I was 9 years old when a brother being a complete jerk — I have a more accurate description but it’s inappropriate for these pages — forced my head underwater and restrained my hands in a swimming pool. He thought it was funny. After 30 seconds or so I was terrified.

I was surprised to find myself hyperventilating for a moment at the blood bank. After I realized the mask with my arms being immobile for the donation process triggered a flashback of sorts, I calmed down. I was irked at myself for creating a ruckus of sorts with my reaction.

Not being dismissive of those who feel claustrophobic with masks or may have anxieties triggered for a wide variety of reasons, but those among us who have been in a rage since the words “pandemic” and “COVID-19” became the part of our daily conversations almost on an hourly basis need to chill out.

This is not meant to downplay the reality that 887,780 Americans are among the 5.6 million people who have died worldwide from COVID-19. But there are more signs with each passing day that people are generally becoming “comfortable” with the reality COVID is here to stay.

It is clearly a notch or two above the flu.

At the same time it is clear most of us have created routines that allow us to live with the threat without acting like we’re preparing for nuclear Armageddon and constructing bunkers.

The trick is not to lower our guard, not to be careless, but to pay heed to our health and well-being and not to have complete disregard for the welfare of others either on a small scale or in a wanton manner.

If you think about it that applies to just about everything we do from how we drive to how we dispose of trash.

The truth is we have more control of variable factors that can determine our fate and the fate of those close to us and even the fate of random strangers than do Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden, Donald Trump, Neil Young, Joe Rogan, London Breed, or Gavin Newsom.

Our selective hearing in the vast echo chamber of sound and fury known as the Internet that often times signifies nothing aside, what matters is what works for us.

You aren’t entitled to access Costco unless you have a membership card. A business requiring masks to enter is no different.

Yes, you can argue businesses may be forced to have a mask requirement by the government but there are clear signs we are moving beyond that. The reason is simple. More and more of us — even those galloping at top speed on their high horses to create a stampede to trample those that don’t tow the official line regardless of what their dissent is rooted in — are following the examples and not the words of leaders such as Gov. Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Ironically the gatekeepers on government payrolls and self-anointed guardians of the power structure they embrace because they align with their thinking are downplaying the value of masks.

The same people who once thought touching groceries with our bare hands was a COVID-19 death sentence based on “educated guesses” they were making at the time are now being borderline dismissive of masks.

The official line has now evolved into masks “have minimum” impact in slowing down the spread of COVID.

That seems like masks are on the verge of losing the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

But if masks are border line useless that doesn’t account for two straight years in the drop off of other respiratory illnesses transmitted such as colds and the flu.

While I rarely get colds or the flu, I usually have a runny nose due to allergy issues at various times throughout the year. But in the past 22 months my purchase of facial tissue has plummeted significantly. The only thing I’ve done different is wear a mask when COVID protocols call for it.

That said concerns about being around potential carriers of COVID have prompted me to change my habits.

The best example is daily jogs in the past five months taking me down the tidewater and past the far southeastern corner of the Manteca Transit Center parking lot where they do COVID testing.

Three weeks ago as I was nearing the station I noticed a large group of people standing on the bike path. As I got closer I realized the testing line that usually was short and contained to the parking lot had spilled out onto the tidewater.

There were close to 70 people in line. Most of them were creating a nice obstacle blocking the bike path. While they were fully masked I turned my head away as I passed given I do not wear a mask when I jog.

I have not passed by the transit center since during a jog unless it has been on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday when the testing site is closed.

It’s clear that I have developed a comfort level that Goldilocks could appreciate when it comes to COVID.

I don’t like measures or behaviors that I view as too restrictive or those not restrictive enough. I am comfortable with measures that are just right for me.

When most of us find that comfort zone and as immunity by herd, vaccinations or both hit what society and not government determines is a reasonable level, we will have found the acceptable level of annual COVID deaths.

That, however, doesn’t mean all caution will be thrown to the wind.

We may very well find that just like others across the globe have known for years masks are an effective way based on personal decisions and not government edicts to reduce our chances even to a small degree of being knit with a cold, flu or now possibly even COVID.

It is irrelevant whether Joe Rogan or Neil Young agree.

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