Three days ago, on September 8, 2022, at 3:10 pm, I got my “New Covid-19 Booster.” That’s the new “bivalent” one that targets BOTH the original Covid-19 virus as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants. So, possibly…maybe…perhaps, in approximately 11 days from now, I can stop wearing a mask indoors! That.will.be.big.
That might mean when I’ll feel comfortable eating indoors in a restaurant again! It might also mean when I’d feel OK going to see a play or a movie.
I know many people have moved on from the pandemic, but I haven’t. I know people who are still getting Omicron and who are currently dealing with quarantining, stubborn positive test results and lingering side effects. I really don’t want to get Covid and so I’ve been wearing a well-fitted mask every time I go indoors to shop, or visit a museum or take a city bus or subway. I don’t love wearing the mask for long intervals so I haven’t gone to see a play or a movie for 2-1/2 years. And since eating requires removing a mask, I won’t eat indoors.
But, perhaps…maybe…hopefully…on September 22, 2022, the pandemic ends for me–at least until the next Covid variant comes along.
I was shopping at my local supermarket on the Upper West Side in Manhattan when all of a sudden I felt something hit the right side of my body. I immediately turned away from the bread shelf and looked towards the origins of the impact. And there, within inches from me, was another person! It was close physical contact in the time of Covid 19 and, even worse, the person who bumped into me wasn’t wearing a mask! He immediately apologized and asked if I was OK. But I would happily have done without an apology and preferred that he keep his maskless mouth shut.
I had on a mask, and my 2nd vaccination was 6 weeks before, but that doesn’t mean that I’m comfortable being a breath away from a maskless stranger inside a building.
In my pre-vaccinated days, for the times when I needed to be inside that same supermarket, I wore 2 masks and a face shield. I stopped wearing the face shield 2 weeks after my 2nd vaccine but this incident had me thinking whether that extra layer of the face shield would give me that added comfort level. Then I tried to remember that I’d had the vaccine. I reminded myself that even if I got Covid from this maskless stranger, it would be a mild case.
I’m simply amazed at people who either aren’t sure whether they’ll roll up their sleeves for the shot or have decided that they won’t. I do wonder, though, whether I’d ever again go outside my apartment without a mask.
I’m very grateful for all the Etsy shops selling masks now. I’ve bought a few with filter pockets and am inserting cut-up vacuum cleaner bags or Scott Shop towels. They seem to work just fine, fit snugly and let me continue to breathe through them.
My building requires everyone to mask-up in all public spaces: elevators, hallways, lobby, laundry room, mail room. So putting on a mask is as much a part of my apartment-leaving routine as taking my keys.
When I venture out for short walks on Riverside Drive, about 90% of the people during this week #8 are wearing masks. That percentage has certainly increased in the past few weeks, although there are a few people wearing them around their chins. It’s not clear what they’re thinking since there aren’t that many places in NYC where you’re not 6′ away from another human being. So having them constantly over your nose and mouth is certainly the way to go.
A stubborn group of non-mask-wearers are the runners who (mostly) don’t have them on. It’s also hard to stay out of their way when they run in the middle of the walkway. Maybe they haven’t heard the news that there’s a pandemic, or, as Governor Cuomo said, maybe they’re just selfish.
I’m hoping I’ll get used to the feeling of wearing a mask before those 90 degree high humidity days begin here in the city. Then wearing a mask on a cool spring day will seem pretty pleasant. No question that, as with most things and this pandemic, it can always be worse.