On Saturday, May 29, Massachusetts lifted most of our pandemic restrictions. In celebration, the TD Garden was packed for the playoff game between the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders—which the Bruins won handily, 5-2.
I am not an ice hockey fan, nor would I feel safe going to an indoor arena filled to capacity, regardless of the sport. Too big a risk, too soon, in too huge a crowd. Outdoors, however, for a baseball game in good weather at the new Minor League stadium in our fair city, yes. Looking forward to that sometime in the not-too-distant future.
A week past Al’s clearance from Covid quarantine (he caught a mild case despite being immunized), we’re both doing fine, thank goodness. And the fact that I never caught it from him, due to the vaccine, has definitely given me more confidence—enough to venture indoors to a restaurant with my daughters on Sunday for a belated Mother’s Day meal. Our eldest has been immunized for months, and our youngest was finally able to get both Moderna vaccinations from the university where she works near Philly. So she came for a long Memorial Day weekend, and the three of us had a ladies’ luncheon, their treat.
It was great to get together, and it was also great to sit in a restaurant without worrying about taking off my mask. The place was busy, plenty of people, but still some spacing between tables. We sat near glass doors that did not close completely, so we also had a source of fresh air.
What surprised me was how close to normal it seemed. The waitstaff were still in masks and gloves, which I appreciated. But otherwise it felt like it’s always felt to eat out. Our focus was on the food and conversation, not on any worries about safety. I will be thrilled to put my mask collection away sometime over the summer, when the data confirms the wisdom of eased restrictions, as cases and deaths continue to decline with increased vaccination rates.
Al’s situation going forward is a bit uncertain, however. Given that his immune system is somewhat compromised, we need medical guidance about when/if it would be truly safe for him to go unmasked in crowds. Does the fact that he caught mild Covid and recovered after being fully immunized actually add to his protection? Or does it all depend on the variants that are still evolving? We don’t know, but I hope to get answers soon.
Our experience over the past couple of weeks is just one small example of how vigilance remains essential for those at greater risk, even as the light at the tunnel’s end is now visible. Memorial Day commemorates fallen soldiers, but we’d also do well to remember the 594 thousand Americans who have died from Covid since the pandemic began over a year ago. That’s more than the total number of soldiers who died in World War I, World War II and Vietnam, and on 9/11. And there are still people hospitalized and dying from this terrible disease.
As we venture out of our Covid cocoons, even as we revel in unmasked spaces, I profoundly hope and pray that the majority of my fellow citizens have learned to be more thoughtful about the health and well-being of others still at risk. Please get the vaccine if you are able and have not already, so that this very dark chapter can finally close and we can all, at last, safely move forward.
Image: Robert Bye