Two Years

Dates and prologue From https://www.ajmc.com/view/a-timeline-of-covid19-developments-in-2020 and its follow-up: https://www.ajmc.com/view/a-timeline-of-covid-19-vaccine-developments-in-2021

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) dominated 2020. This is a look back at how the pandemic evolved and progressed through the year, which closed with the arrival of vaccines, but also continued challenges.
Updated January 1, 2021
As the year ended, the United States surpassed 20 million infections from SARS-CoV-2, and more than 346,000 deaths. Globally, cases rose to 83,832,334 and 1,824,590 deaths.

January 9 — WHO Announces Mysterious Coronavirus-Related Pneumonia in Wuhan, China

I was inclined to write “it was still a novelty then,” but it wasn’t a novelty – it was at most an outlier. Something happening somewhere else to other people. At the time I was far more preoccupied with The Witcher on Netflix, and a stray cat which had sort of moved in with us. Pintica – she was very old and would die soon just as my own cat, Mickey, had died a few months before and my girlfriend’s dog, Chloe, would die a few months after. I think the proportion of discussing COVID in this paragraph v. discussing animals is a fair representation of how important it wasn’t at the time. At the time, similarly, many of us were beginning to feel the real anxiety of trump’s last term, and daring to whisper that, god willing and the creek didn’t rise, we’d have a new president about 380 days.

January 21 — CDC Confirms First US Coronavirus Case

But big deal -how many big scary diseases had rushed towards America only to break on our excellent public health countermeasures and then recede from public consciousness – SARS, Ebola, Bird flu…scary in theory, but amounted to very little for most of us. Looking back at social media, I was still preoccupied with the dying Pintica and with planning a trip to Detroit.

February 3 — US Declares Public Health Emergency

Still kind of a joke at this point. There were criticisms of the trump administration for not acting earlier, but all in all I remember that we were just happy the government was actually doing something. Anything. China was in bad shape and Italy wasn’t looking too good either, but we were all reasonably sure nothing could happen here.

March 11 — WHO Declares COVID-19 a Pandemic

My work email is flooded with students asking whether or not we’ll have class. By “flooded” I mean I hear from 5, maybe 6 students…it’s a lot for one day really. For my part I was still a little dismissive. I joked about “preparing for a pandemic at the speed of Miami,” meaning very slowly, and also dreading the prospect of martial law or authoritarian rule much more than a virus. I had just had a very nasty case of the flu two weeks before, and any number of people joked that I had had COVID. I hadn’t. I sort of thought perhaps I had…but all signs in hindsight point to no. I’ve been very, very careful since.

March 17 — Administration Asks Congress to Send Americans Direct Financial Relief

Lockdown. Or more like “lockdown.” If the US had actually locked down, this might have ended then. It didn’t. I think that the worst of it really started at this point: St. Patrick’s Day, 2020. Before that it was just a disease. I’ve always been bad about this sort of thing – about not believing something is really a problem…I work on it, but one time at a party I watched someone pass out from a standing position and, when they started fluttering out of consciousness, just thought they were goofing around. Then they hit the floor and it was all “give them room give them room / someone call for a medic.” I couldn’t see it happening then – there was still a little bit of a goofiness to it also. It was all so serious but also I went to costco and bought a lot of booze and thought “well, may as well party I guess.” I don’t think I was the only one. I started paying attention to deaths at this point. The numbers seemed interesting at the time – and only interesting. Nothing more.

March 30 — FDA Authorizes Use of Hydroxychloroquine

What a shit-show that turned out to be. The first of the “breathe a deep sigh of relief we’re going to be okay” false starts. People started chugging tonic water (quinine almost sort of lives in the same neighborhood as hydroxychlroquine…easy mistake I guess) and hoarding toilet paper.

April 29 — NIH Trial Shows Early Promise for Remdesivir

Still more seeds planted for the shit show to come. Pardon the mixed metaphor, but in just over 1 year, politicians (republicans, to be clear) will start pushing this (expensive) treatment instead of the (free) vaccine.

May 12 — Death Toll Likely Underestimated, Fauci Testifies

This will basically be a mantra for the next 2 years.

May 28 — US COVID-19 Deaths Pass the 100,000 Mark

We seriously still believed the initial “240,000 max” estimate at this point. Yeah, we’d already chewed up half of that…but surely we were all taking precautions, weren’t we?

June 16 — HHS Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Will Be Free for Some

Free for all, it turns out – but we didn’t know this at the time.

June 20 — NIH Halts Trial of Hydroxychloroquine

It doesn’t work – this does not stop any number of people from chugging tonic water and literally stealing hydroxychloroquine from pharmacies. It’s not even the worst ill-advised substance people will take to avoid being vaccinated or wearing a mask. Some of them die anyway – from COVID or from renal failure brought about by overdosing on snake oil.

June 29 — Gilead Sets Price for Remdesivir at $3120

Just in case anyone wondered why republicans are pushing the “cure” over the vaccine.

July 2 — States Reverse Reopening Plans

I didn’t mind that much – I’d already cancelled my Detroit trip, and the summer semester (100% online) was starting. Depression was monstrous, but survivable. Drinking hit a peak for me around this time. Every trip to the store required masks, hand sanitizer, and yes, we let the groceries “air out” before putting them away, at least on a couple of occasions.

July 7 — US Surpasses 3 Million Infections, Begins WHO Withdrawal

The trump presidency in a nutshell: American systems collapsing, but an obstinate “F you” to the world at large. Dying by the hundreds of thousands to own the libs.

July 14 — States With COVID-19 Spikes Report Greatest Health Insurance Coverage Losses

Because capitalism.

July 15 — New Hospital Data Reporting Protocol Prompts Concern

I don’t think we’ll ever actually know how many people really died of this virus. The lying & cover-ups started here, at the federal level, and continue to this day at the state level. GOP-led states have cooked up dozens of ways to mislead, misdirect, cover up, and outright lie about COVID infection rates and fatalities.

July 21 — Vaccines From AstraZeneca, CanSino Biologics Show Promising Results

We all started to get excited for Thanksgiving and the other winter holidays right around this time.

July 27 — Senate Introduces HEALS Act

Had we actually shut down for 30 days, this probably would have been unnecessary. But this is who we turned into.

August 4 — Rural Hotspots Face Lack of Intensive Care Unit Beds

Another mantra for the next 2 years.

August 13 — Biden Calls for 3-Month Mask Mandate

Masks have become an intense political battleground. People argue they’re an impingement on freedom and the American way of life. Other people, who are not morons, argue meekly in favor of not dying. Nothing happens otherwise.

August 17 — COVID-19 Now the Third-Leading Cause of Death in the US

And it could have been preventable, but wasn’t / isn’t.

August 24 — Remdesivir’s Clinical Benefits Questioned

It doesn’t even work all that well – but at $3k+ per pop, better believe it’s more important to keep the cash flowing than the oxygen.

August 28 — First Known Case of COVID-19 Reinfection Reported in the US

Ha, ain’t that a bitch? Turns out you can get it again and again and again. It’s like a video game with a really short respawn immunity timer. Also? It gets deadlier the more it goes on, so not only is your respawn window short, the game is getting harder too.

September 1 — US Rejects WHO Global COVID-19 Vaccine Effort

All the while we were dealing with this pandemic, we were also dealing with the rise of fascism in America. At the time of this writing, both are still ongoing. Nearly a year later, and the right is marshalling its strength and hundreds of people are dying daily from the Delta variant.

September 14 — US Airports Stop Screening International Travelers

They’re just pretending it’s over. As of September 14, 2020 I don’t think we’d even seen 200,000 deaths. Maybe we had…time was starting to blur. One of the reasons I’m writing this now is to match my own timeline with that of the CDC, WHO, and other medical authorities. September 14 marked the beginning of a fully online Fall semester. We’d just gotten a new cat. We were sure the pandemic would be over soon.

September 23 — A New, More Contagious Strain of COVID-19 Is Discovered

Another mantra for the next two years.

September 29 — Regeneron Announces Positive Results for Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

Investors in Regeneron fund multiple Republican politicians. Coincidentally, the treatment gets promoted while the vaccine (coming soon) is denigrated.

October 2 — Trump, First Lady Test Positive for COVID-19; Trump Enters Hospital

This seemed like a bigger deal at the time than it was. The president got A+ double-super-ultra-good treatment. Poor people still get to die alone though.

October 8 — White House COVID-19 Outbreak Grows to 34

Ultimately nothing changed. Nothing. Some of the most powerful people in the world are stricken with a deadly disease on one day, and the next they curse doctors, mock masking, and are negligently tout conspiracy theories while claiming the virus is a hoax, or “not that bad” or similar. Nearly losing the president (such as he was) doesn’t even make a dent.

October 22 — FDA Approves Remdesivir as First COVID-19 Drug

And we’re all super glad that this is at least available…but it is expensive, and is only a treatment, not a cure. It’s efficiency is not promising. It is in many cases merely a shot of hope.

November 4 — US Reports Unprecedented 100,000 Cases in 1 Day

The entire county where I lived as a child didn’t have this many people in it.

November 9 — President-Elect Biden Announces COVID-19 Transition Team; Pfizer Publishes Vaccine Results

That “President-Elect” part was *THE* news story at the time. The fascists dialed back their visibility (or rather, this is one thing that will make them start going back underground shortly), but trump’s legitimate loss in the 2020 presidential election is well on the way to causing as many problems as it cured owing in large part to the democrat’s reluctance to actually do anything all in the name of bad-faith bipartisanship. Pardon my bitterness, but Christ on a cracker this is bad.

November 18 — Pfizer, BioNTech Vaccine Is 95% Effective

You cannot imagine how happy we were. Even if you lived through this, like me, you probably don’t remember how happy this made all of us. The end was in sight. We were going to make it. It was all going to be okay.

December 29 — First US Case of New COVID-19 Variant Found in Colorado

Holiday travel largely to blame. Cases are about to go through the roof, as are deaths. A third wave is well underway. Or maybe it was only the second…time is very confusing in this blurry haze. Nobody is running the show. This was the plan of half of our current power structure all the while: to disrupt and destroy faith in that power structure, and to replace it with something even more brutal and oppressive. Merry Christmas.

December 31 —US Falls Short of Goal to Give 20 Million Vaccinations by Year End

This was just the first nine months of the pandemic. I write all this now in August of 2021 and the fourth wave has arguably not even hit its peak. It is hard to believe that this will end. It is hard to hope that there will ever be another way of life than the one we’re living now. It is increasingly harder to believe in any sort of future at all.

January 6HHS to Provide $22 Billion to Fund Testing, Vaccine Distribution

Know what else was happening January 6th? Rioters, incensed by the outgoing president and his inner circle of sociopaths, actually storming the US capital on a mission to kill lawmakers. One woman, a rioter, was shot and killed. The rest of the country sort of walks around in a daze for the next week or two. Yay vaccines, we guess…

January 11Vaccine Doses Go Unused or Are Trashed

The infrastructure simply doesn’t exist. There is no reliable, consistent way to distribute doses of these volatile vaccines. Oh, and some absolutely psychotics decide to just destroy the vaccine too. Popular anti-vaccine conspiracies include, but are not limited to: the vaccine gives you a microchip, the vaccine makes you sterile, the vaccine makes you magnetic, and the vaccine actually is the virus. I am 100% out of any good will or patience for anti-vaxxers or COVID-deniers at this point. Actually, I never had any patience for them, but for the last year + I’ve been on an unfriending kick, taking back my time and cleaning up my social media. Done with these people.

January 18Reports of Racial Disparities in Vaccination Rates

Because America.

January 20California Reports Allergic Reactions to Moderna Vaccine

This will prevent millions of Americans from getting the vaccine, because an extremely rare, imminently treatable, and typically NOT severe allergic reaction is somehow worse than what has revealed itself to be one of the deadliest viruses of the last 100 years. Correction to first line: This will prevent millions of very stupid Americans…

January 27US Vaccine Supply to Increase by 50%

Things were looking SO good at this point.

February 1More Americans Vaccinated Than Infected With COVID-19

Like, really, really good. I went ahead and re-booked my flight to Detroit – the one I had cancelled the previous summer. I started notifying friends to expect me in June. It was ON.

February 15Polls Show Split by Party Line Over Vaccine Uptake

GOP death cult. Republicans literally would not take the vaccine because a democrat was president. You can dress it up however you like, but this is what it boiled down to. Republicans were still waiting to find out that trump was the real president, and that he was going to cure COVID right after he personally executed all the leftists. I am not making this up.

February 21Pfizer Vaccine 98.8% Effective Against Deaths, Hospitalizations After 2 Doses

The elderly were getting jabbed left and right, and there were early whispers of giving the vaccine to teachers & other public-facing workers next. This is significant because I, as an educator, was entitled to a vaccination and you best believe that I, in the words of William S. Burroughs, got that needle RIGHT in my arm.

February 26 — 50 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Administered

What’s misleading about this is that 50 million doses of a two-dose vaccine means that you’ve got 50 million people not-quite vaccinated. Around this time there were also reports of grift &mismanagement of vaccine rollout programs – none of that really caught on in terms of news. We did not care, in other words – we just wanted our shots, and we wanted to get back to normal.

March 1J&J Vaccine Rollout Begins

We were skeptical. This was a one-dose vaccine and we were like “say whaaat?” and at this point most of us still trusted Pfizer and Moderna more. Just seemed like they had prepared better and were more coherent in their explanations. Turns out it didn’t really matter – they all work more or less, at least for now & as of today. We’ll knock on wood here…

Former President and First Lady Received COVID-19 Vaccines in January

Same date – the trumps, who called the virus a hoax, who dismissed its importance, who failed to act, who doomed hundreds of thousands of Americans to death, got the vaccine that they mocked at every turn.

March 3Biden Says Vaccines Will Be Available for Every US Adult by May

Ehhhh, not quite…

March 4 — Rich Florida Residents Receive Vaccines Before Rest of the State

Because America. But also because Florida.

March 11 — Nearly Half of Republican Men Will Not Get COVID-19 Vaccines

Choking on your own lungs to own the libs.

March 17Vaccine May Lessen COVID-19 Long-Haul Symptoms

One thing I have just not understood after all this is the insistence that COVID is just flu and that 90%+ of people survive it…there is *NO* way to know if you’ll be one of the lucky survivors, it is apparently an absolute misery to endure, AND it turns out that it leaves you with potentially life-long disabilities including decreased lung power and, holy shit, worsened cognitive function. The disease literally makes you stupid.

March 19United States Administers 100 Millionth Vaccine

It me. Right around here somewhere I get my first dose and then my second three weeks later, and enjoy full immunity two weeks after that. It is a relief, but too little too late, like scratching a bug bite after the itching has mostly stopped. It’s nice. I breathe a little easier. I don’t panic about the fit of my mask and I sanitize my hands at more normal, less paranoid, intervals. I cement travel plans.

March 25 — Biden Announces New Vaccine Goal

Ehhh, not quite.

March 29Some States Open Vaccinations to All Adults

It could have ended nearly a year before this, but THIS, we were sure, was REALLY going to be the end of it. Party over, COVID – vaccines in every CVS, everyone eligible – let’s get on with the business of getting back to normal.

April 1Vaccine Rollout Marred by Racial Inequities

Because America.

April 6UK COVID-19 Variant Detected in All 50 States

This seemed really scary at the time, but was ultimately kind of a non-starter. It was no Delta variant, in other words.

Around this time, a man with his face painted like The Joker from Batman goes on spring break in Miami Beach, FL. He waves an American flag atop a car hood and shouts “COVID IS OVER – COVID IS OVER!” He throws money in the air, and people rush to grab it. He jumps down off the hood of the car. Maybe COVID is over.

April 9Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Incidence, Mortality in Montana

Because America.

April 18Half of All US Adults Have Received 1 COVID-19 Dose

It sounds good…but it is not enough. Not even close.

April 19All Adults Nationwide Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccines

We were so, so certain it was over.

April 23 — States See Drops in Demand for COVID-19 Vaccines

And because we were certain it was over, people began behaving as though it were. Fewer masks in public, less handwashing, more casual dining. People trusted that others were vaccinated, thus lessening their chance at exposure. Wanting the thing became, some believed, having the thing.

April 27CDC Eases Mask Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

“The CDC Says you don’t need a mask” will become another mantra – this time for, you guessed it, morons.

April 29Half of US States Report Drops in COVID-19 Cases

It is not over. It’s not even ending.

May 3CVS, Walgreens Wasted More Vaccine Doses Than Most States Combined

So glad the US handed all these doses over to massive corporations instead of coordinating some sort of carefully monitored and well-funded rollout program.

Same date — More Than 1 in 5 New COVID-19 Cases Involve Children

This is only starting.

May 6Teenagers Respond Well to COVID-19 Vaccines

If I share all the “good news” bits in a row, it might be easier to see why we were all relaxing going into summer. It seriously looked like it was all over. We seriously thought we had it beat. Teenagers were responding well, all adults were eligible…SOME people (not me, because I’m not [that] stupid) believed that kids couldn’t get COVID. We figured that if adults and teens got their shots, bingo: we’re on easy street.

May 16Fauci: Vaccine Efficacy Better Than Anticipated in Real-World Setting

I stopped wishing people a safe summer and started wishing them a happy summer right around here. Safe seemed like a foregone conclusion. Happy was now possible.

May 26COVID-19 Infection After Vaccination Is Extremely Rare

Look, no need to get reckless – but all signs point to hot girl summer part 2.

June 1Employers Can Require COVID-19 Vaccine

Ha yeah but not really. Some states, like Oh I dunno, Florida, try to argue that this is unconstitutional. This fight is still ongoing as of September, 2021.

June 3Initiative Announced to Boost Vaccine Rates

LOL Y tho? Like, COVID is basically over! I fly to Detroit, have a great weekend – outstanding, really . Party time, excellent. I wear a mask on the plane, but barely bother otherwise. I’m 44, vaccinated, healthy, and having the time of my life in Detroit – it’s the first time I’ve been back in nearly 3 years. I laugh almost constantly despite crying more than once. I am overjoyed.

June 25COVID-19 Deaths Most Common in Unvaccinated

Well duh, we could have told you that.

June 30Vaccinations Lag Among Medicaid Beneficiaries

So ends the second report.

As of June 30, it still looked really good. Cases and deaths were still trending downward. I taught my summer semester classes and had a generally good season.

And then came Delta.

Cases and deaths since August of 2021 threaten to go vertical yet again as they did during the holidays in 2020 – shortly before the vaccine was available. Vaccination rates have dropped through the floor. Well over half a million Americans have died, and the number has sped up again driven in large part by infected children, who as of today’s date cannot be vaccinated against the disease and who are being forced back into crowded classrooms.

It’s anecdotal, but I personally know three people in quarantine today. We have been back in-class for two weeks and I am hearing reports of cases on-campus. I am lucky to have not personally known anyone who died, but I can attest that three people from my graduating high school class have that I know of.

It’s taken me the better part of an hour to write this, and I confess that I did this entirely for my own benefit. I have had an awful week. I have exercised once (normally 4+ times per week). I have drank to something near drunkenness twice (normally I indulge moderately once a week, sometimes not even that much). I am anxious and depressed, although I must admit to feeling slightly better after writing all this out.

Is this to say to anyone reading this that you are not alone? I think that would be nice, but it’s not my intention – but then, intention doesn’t always matter. If you’re reading this and agreeing or otherwise sympathizing, I think that’s good. I hope you remember everything I’ve written about here and I hope maybe this inspires you to do the same thing for yourself.

Because we have to remember. We have to remember how it felt, why it happened, who’s to blame, and what it cost us. Every last bit of it.

This could have been over 16 months ago. It never, ever had to be this bad. It doesn’t have to be this bad now.

But I think it’s all going to get worse before it gets better, and the sooner we can find one another: the sensible, the vaccinated, the careful, the sane; the better.

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