As Vermont moves closer and closer to lifting all COVID-19 restrictions and regulations, many are grappling with how to release the collective anxiety that we’ve shared over the last 15 months.
For most of us, this was our first pandemic and all that we didn’t know was overwhelming. Schools, ski areas and stores closed. We were told to stay home to the extent possible and we did. We were asked to wear masks and keep a distance and avoid gathering or visiting other people’s homes and we did.
Fifteen months into the pandemic we know a lot more about how it spreads, we have vaccinated the most vulnerable and now we’re approaching the 80% benchmark for Vermonters having received one dose of the vaccine. The CDC no longer requires fully vaccinated people to wear masks.
It’s understandable that people are both thrilled and conflicted about taking off their masks. It shouldn’t take a leap of faith to trust in the science of the vaccines and their efficacy – yet it does for some people.
It’s going to take time for people to process this experience and it’s going to take time for our collective anxiety to ebb. While Vermont’s death rate remains low, 255 families have lost someone. Over 24,000 people contracted COVID and some were seriously sick or became long-haulers. We were spared the horrific numbers of other parts of the country and other parts of the world, but we were no less affected – and in some ways – traumatized by the pandemic.
As amazing as it is to hug people and it is amazing (this is honestly the best transition ever), we have to give ourselves the time and space to feel safe. During the darkest part of this prolonged pandemic, all we wanted was to return to before, to normal life, and now here it comes and we’re joyous yet cautious.
We’ll let that collective anxiety go with time. We won’t forget March 2020-June 2021. It’s a part of our lives now but it won’t dominate forever. Let’s hope that many years in the future when we think back on this, we’ll remember that during a difficult we took care of each other and helped each other.