COVID Chatter In Fourth Wave Of Pandemic All Over The Map


I have been struck over the past few days about the tone of conversations by the way we communicate concerning COVID. I even came across a new term in online discourse.

Vaxenfreude.

It means, according to the back and forth tweets, the joy felt when the unvaccinated get COVID-19. The consensus was that we all have felt it, and most are probably inwardly ashamed of that sentiment.

Following the UW-Madison Badger football game on Saturday many people were commenting on what they saw play out in the stadium stands as news reports alerted the nation it took only 6 six days for the number of infected citizens to climb from 39 million to 40 million.

There were some who felt this was a sure sign of hypocrisy front and center as the county mandates mask-wearing and the UW sends messages about how to be safe from getting the virus. Many others suggested since the student population is 90% vaccinated on our campus, and after missing the season last year, why not allow for some honest frivolity?

This morning it was reported that one of the most uptight conservatives felt there was just too much concern for safety measures on campus. State Senator Steve Nass officially asked the Legislature’s Republican leaders to sue the University of Wisconsin System after they refused to submit their COVID-19 protocols to his committee for approval.

No matter where we turn there are varying views of safety measures, the degree to which the virus is either able to be stemmed or if it now is something we will need to live with, akin to the flu.

We now hear from national health leaders that perhaps even the way we view success over the virus will morph, too. Success very well might be that very few people are in the hospital from COVID and very few dying. Or to be more blunt what are we willing to accept in terms of deaths and filled hospitals?

Most Americans, are doing a wide array of activities each day, and for school-age parents, those tasks have multiplied this week. So it is easy to see how the wide array of media images and headlines make for widely disparate conclusions about what the actual state of the virus is, and how best to bring it under control.

I have followed the views and perspectives over the past year of a local friend who is an epidemiologist. James and I hew close to the medically prescribed guidelines. But I have been told, again and again in our conversations, how out-of-step with effective communications the CDC has been from the start of this crisis.

That was made clear from a poll released this week.

“Just 32% of people agreed that the CDC has communicated a clear plan of action in response to Covid-19,” while 41% disagreed.”

Granted, the CDC relies on data and not perceptions or the whims of the public when making statements and findings. The use of masks and how to proceed early on in the pandemic was the first huge blunder from the CDC. As such, at times, it might seem as the CDC is disagreeing with itself. If there was, however, a more artful approach to communicating those areas where new data means a new approach to be taken with this pandemic we all would be better off.

Many of us are following the data and register on the side of sanity and concern for the greater good. A Facebook friend made that point to me this week.

My sister is the head of mental health for Texas health resources. It’s one of the larger hospital systems here in our state. She told me the other day if we don’t get a handle on what’s going on now that (the next variant) will be the one that will make people realize they should’ve listened. All we can do is keep spreading the truth.

There are times in the recent days the chatter about the virus reminds me of the blind men describing a huge elephant. It seems most dispiriting to think that our great nation has discarded facts, reason, and logic so as to allow the most base in the nation to feel good about themselves for being stupid.

And so it goes.