I feel like I’ve lost my goddamn mind, but we’ll get back to that point soon. Let’s start with this. Two things seem to be true at this moment in the pandemic:
First, that our numbers are higher than they’ve ever been, in most cases not just by a hair’s breadth, but often by two, three, even four times their previous peaks.
Second, that we are doing less now to mitigate cases than ever before.
This happened alarmingly fast. Delta took a couple months to simmer here. Omicron, the dominant variant, boiled as soon as it hit the stove. It rolled over us in a matter of weeks, not months. Hey, we flattened the curve — just in the wrong fucking direction, as our leap in cases is now a billionaire’s rocketship, launching straight up and into orbit.
With this new variant came the assumption that it is a milder form of the disease, and from that single assumption arrived a number of decisions. The CDC changed all its policies in a sudden, confusing barf of protection reductions. (Though in fairness, Carl Bergstrom notes on a Twitter thread that, despite the piss-poor communication, there might be some value in these changes.) The CDC’s head, Rochelle Walensky, offered a (correctly) maligned soundbite, explaining that “the overwhelming number of deaths, over 75%, occurred in people who had at least 4 comorbidities. So really these are people who were unwell to begin with and yes, really encouraging news in the context of Omicron.” Never mind the fact that comorbidities such obesity, diabetes, depression are not uncommon, particularly as one enters middle-age (and never mind that were they uncommon, it is not actually encouraging to be told that you are unwell and will be the ones to bear the brunt of the disease that nobody is protecting you from). The Biden administration has relied on vaccines and mandates, but not fully — they refuse, even still, to make vaccines a requirement of domestic flights. And the current business mandate is being challenged in the Supreme Court, with a not-unreasonable chance for it to fail. There are supposed to be tests coming to us by mail, though I’m not sure when, and we’re not even sure how well the home tests detect Omicron, particularly in its early stages. There exists little clarity on what anybody is doing, which mostly means, nobody is doing anything.
From this, you can feel the lack of leadership and the loss of focus and good communication cascading out through the populace like a wave of surrender. Masks? Fuck ’em. Gone! Gone. I mean, to be clear, they were gone mostly when the CDC botched that communication early on, but here, now, I go out and I don’t see a mask on a face. Not from anybody. Not even as our cases are triple where they were in this county. Vaccine mandates? Temporarily gone, and probably full gone soon enough, with no seeming plans to introduce them. Testing? Quarantine? Isolation? Contact tracing? Can’t find tests, and the CDC has changed who should get them. Quarantine and isolation is already limited now, and for the most part here, parents and workers are subtly encouraged in schools and in jobs to just… casually not test at all because if you test, you might find it, and then your kids might not be in school (THE HORROR) and you might not get to come in to do your job (OH SHIT) and so maybe, y’know, I dunno, don’t go looking for COVID and you won’t find it. (This, a particularly Trumpy echo.) Contact tracing? Hahaha. Haha. Hahahhahgaaaaaaah yeah nobody is tracing shit anymore. It’s on you if you wanna do that. Good luck.
And from all this has cascaded a particular attitude, even among people who were once maybe careful, who are vaccinated and are not necessarily thoughtless people —
The attitude is, I give up.
It’s, “I don’t like this anymore, so I’m not going to do it.”
It’s, “Well, we’re all going to catch it anyway, gotta live my life.”
It’s, “I don’t want to hear anymore about how the bridge is out, I’m just going to accelerate the car and assume they’ll put the bridge back up before I get there, or at the very least, I’ll just jump the ravine in my Toyota Camry.”
They are bored with the pandemic.
They are tired of it.
They don’t want restrictions.
They don’t want to stop or even slow down.
And it has led to this peculiar, troubling moment —
Cases are worse than they’ve ever been.
And people are done caring.
If you ask them, they will say — to go back to the beginning of this — oh, I hear Omicron is mild. Is it? Is it mild? Maybe. It may be milder. I know a lot of people who have COVID — more now than cumulatively throughout the entire pandemic — and they’re all vaxxed and boosted and experiencing a relatively mild sickness. Of course, when you realize that before now, there was Delta, and vaxxed/boosted people did not catch Delta easily, it starts to feel like it’s weird to call Omicron — which is kicking down the doors of your body’s protections — milder. Is it mild? It’s mild in that it doesn’t seem to lead to as much hospitalization and death, though that’s not the only metric by which we live. A lot of the people I know who have or had Omicron experienced a rough ride, even if it didn’t include an ambulance ride. Hospitalizations have not yet made the epic leap with the case rates, though hospitalizations are usually a couple-few weeks behind, and deaths behind that. And even still, hospitalizations are boiling over (yes, even with kids) and our healthcare system is wobbling toward collapse, and none of this even seems to consider the unknown potential of Omicron to lead to Long COVID, which would be a mass disabling event that would create some of those pesky comorbidities the CDC is so eager to dismiss. Does COVID significantly increase the chance of developing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in children? Seems like it does.
If you’re starting to feel like, “Hey, maybe this doesn’t sound good,” check this out:
Let’s go to Buzzfeed, where they asked experts to clarify some of the questions about kids and COVID. (Please, no jokes here about Buzzfeed — they have a pretty robust journalistic wing, and have at times done some fantastic reporting.) In this article, you will find first this:
‘“You don’t want colds passed around schools either, right?” Rutherford said. “But on the other hand, one of the reasons we have preschools is so parents can go work. That’s a benefit of it. And if you send them home every time they sneeze, you’re going to have a lot of unhappy parents.”’ Rutherford said it makes sense for schools to continue to follow whatever pre-COVID sickness policies they had in place, with an added layer of COVID testing for children with more severe upper respiratory symptoms. But he said this testing should be rapid, not PCR, which usually takes multiple days to deliver results.
Because, ha ha, yeah, exactly, you can’t be too STRICT with this shit, right? But then:
‘About 20% to 40% of teens who get infected may develop long COVID, said Blumberg. “In younger children, it’s less, but we don’t have good numbers on that.”’
Wait, wait, what? Fucking what now? Twenty to forty percent? Uh, first, that’s a huge unknown gap between those two numbers, but even on the low end, that’s one out of five teenagers.
But we’re just like, nah, fuck it? Ha ha, eat shit, teenagers!
Now, I want you to go check out the CHOP guidance for the new year — Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a generally reputable source on all things children-health-related, yeah? They begin their piece by noting how COVID has pushed the healthcare system to its limits and how dangerous it is, yadda yadda yadda, but then they land on their actual guidance, which begins with:
‘With evidence that COVID-19 is becoming a milder infection in most children, and at a time when all adults and youth in K-12 settings have been offered vaccination, our PolicyLab experts and CHOP clinical leadership have reached a consensus that preserving as much in-person schooling as possible outweighs the risks of infection to children and school staff at this stage of the pandemic.‘
To translate: keeping kids out of school for any period is a sickness greater than COVID.
And here, again, is where I reiterate:
I feel like I’m losing my mind.
Am I losing my mind? Are you?
I sure feel that way.
I feel like someone just told me 2 + 2 now equals 22, and a lot of people seem to agree with that, even though we all know math doesn’t work that fucking way.
I feel like I’m seeing and hearing how bad the pandemic is presently, how the systems are straining, how teachers and healthcare workers are quitting in droves and are pushed to their limits, how friends and family are seeing workplaces and schools hamstrung by all this shit, and then, at the same time… I’m seeing nobody do anything about it. Like, not a fucking thing. In fact, less is being done.
We’ve given up.
This is the Great Surrender.
(Credit to Twitter user @caedsmama for giving it that unofficial name.)
We acknowledge, oh yeah it’s not good, and then we just keep doing what we were doing. No slow down. Only acceleration. We will violently shoulder our way through this pandemic, because we are so done with it, even as it is clearly, clearly not done with us. Schools are open because jobs are open because the economy must be fed. And people defend it. Like they’re people who know they’re in the Matrix and they defend it. Everybody’s Cipher from the first movie, YEAH I LIKE THE TASTE OF THE STEAK, FUCK YOU. Long Covid? Ennh, fuck it. Masks? Fuck it. Restrictions, lockdowns, any mitigation efforts? Fuckity fuck it all. We give up. Game over. Get COVID. Who cares. ISN’T IT TIME WE ALL GET IT, says Agent Smith as he coughs into your mouth.
It feels like gaslighting not from a single-source, but in a miasma that surrounds you. It’s area-of-effect gaslighting. You feel like you wanna say, “Hey things seem really bad right now, maybe we should give things a pause,” and then you get a look like, WOW LOOK AT MISTER LOVES-THE-PANDEMIC OVER HERE, CHECK OUT THE PLAGUE FETISHIST, THE MASK-HUMPER, THE GUY WHO REALLY LOVES HURTING CHILDREN BY SUGGESTING THEY NOT GO TO A SCHOOL WHERE HALF THEIR PEERS ARE OUT, HALF THE TEACHERS ARE OUT, BUT THAT’S FINE IT’LL MAKE THEM TOUGH. It’s like we’re trying to John Wayne our way through a global pandemic, like we can bootstrap it. I mean, sure, kids are barely vaccinated. But jobs! Jobs. Jobs jobs jobs. Gotta churn that crank. Gotta turn out the widgets, and you can’t churn widgets unless your kids are in school. Feed the beast!
(Here I recognize that yes, some kids do need to be in school, not just for education and social development, but also for food. But it’s also worth recognizing that these are systemic failures, in part, and punishing them by forcing them through a boiling pandemic comes with its own obvious deleterious consequences.)
It’s like we’re done with the finding out part and want to get back to the fucking around part, even though it’s not usually supposed to go in that order.
We just… deflated.
I don’t have any great conclusion here. I only write this because I want it written somewhere that I feel like I’m losing my mind. And maybe I am. Maybe I’m the wrong one.
It’s just — what the fuck.
I am blown away. Once we celebrated our healthcare workers and teachers, once we at least tried to band together and flatten the curve (if in our limited way), but now we’re like, nah, fuck it. Nah. Just nah. I mean, sure, other countries are addressing the problem. Sure, if we had just cooled our heels for two, maybe three weeks, we could’ve taken this sharp rise and spiked that volleyball back to the ground. But this is America. We do everything bigger and better. We’ll make this the biggest spike the world has ever seen. We’ll never let it go. We learned to stop worrying and love the COVID.
Mission Accomplished. That’s the banner COVID is hanging right now.
And we are good with that.
And now imagine:
Just wait till climate change really gets going. Every day is already a new story about how FIRE AND SNOW HAD A BABY AND A NEW ATMOSPHERIC RIVER IS DROPPING A BOMB CYCLONE OF HUMID HELL WASPS ON BOTH COASTS, and already we’re like, ennnh but fuck it. But I’m sure it’ll be fine. We’ll develop renewed patience just in time, I’m sure. Any time now. Any. Time.
(As a PS, I apologize if this feels like a bummer. But I honestly feel pretty anxious not just about the pandemic, but also about our sudden acquiescence to it, and I really wanted to talk about it somewhere that wasn’t just Twitter. It required unpacking and so here I am, unpacking. I will get back to fun writing advicey stuff soon. Buy my books or I die. Bye.)
129 responses to “The Great Surrender: How We Gave Up And Let COVID Win”
I lived in Manhattan in September of 2001.
For months after 9/11, I could smell gasoline and thought to myself, this can’t be good, all of us breathing this in. But the EPA said it was fine – probably (now, in hindsight, I realize) because they couldn’t evacuate 8 million+ people. I am terrified of long Covid. This blog post has brought tears to my eyes because you’ve nailed it, Chuck. In our rush to “get back to normal” we could easily be creating decades of health care nightmares for ourselves and children. Yes, being out of school has emotionally damaged kids in America. But other countries are being much more transparent about the effects of Covid on children. In a country without decent healthcare for all, we should all be furious with our government for giving up now.
Lately I have been feeling like I AM LOSING MY F*CKING MIND. I read the news, “OMICRON is more contagious THAN THE MOST CONTAGIOUS DISEASE WE KNOW” followed by, “We are not closing schools, or anything at all, hahahah, also if you get sick, plan to go back to work within 5 days of 5-days-ago”.
People act like they can argue with covid, instead of treating it like the natural disaster that it is. Would you look out the window at an icestorm and think, “meh, those kids should just walk through the ice storm to school anyway” while your neighbor screams at you, “ARE YOU WEARING A F*CKING JACKET YOU SHEEPLE??? I KNOW SOMEONE WHO LIVED NAKED OUTSIDE IN THE ICE FOR A YEAR AND ATE ONLY ICE AND SHAT ONLY ICE AND THEY’RE FINE. IT IS MY GOD GIVEN RIGHT TO FREEZE TO DEATH AND YOU SHOULD TOO”.
You’re so right, Chuck. Over here on the Canadian side of Lake Erie we continue to be horrified at the American response to Covid. We have again closed down gyms, restaurants, theatres etc to try to limit the spread. Even with the vast majority double or triple vaxxed hospitals are at or near capacity. The idea that we should somehow return to “normal life” and disregard the big ole virus is ludicrous. It’s a flagrant insult to all the medical and other frontline people who’ve risked so much.
Ditto, what he said. Don’t look up and all that.
Chuck, you’re not alone. I feel like I’ve been mindfucked for the past two years (the GOP’s January 6th denialism and climate change denialism among the breathtakingly stupid response to Covid). It’s all been a little bit much. Hanging on by a thread here in Southern California. (Lost a cousin to COVID right before Christmas; she proclaimed that God was bigger than the virus. But, like, he gave us the vaccine, so… Lol jk. Thank you, scientists.)
Thanks for writing this, it needs to be said. I thought everyone was being insane, too.
Which is why we gave a huge middle finger to LAUSD and told them to suck on their schooling. The kids are home, the masks are on, and we still barely leave the house. The rest of the world might have given in, but we will not surrender to this crap.
My work made me come in to a maskless christmas party in order to get my bonus, this was just last week. Everyone showed up, and the sickest part was watching a coworker who just lost his wife to covid a few weeks ago. There he was smiling, without a mask, without a care in the world. I didn’t go. And now the vultures are circling, I am not part of the cult of ignorance. And they are starting to ask me to come in from working remotely. It’s nice to have people in the office, they say. Yeah, it’s nice to kill people? Really? Oh, no, of course not. The death numbers are all fake, those aren’t deaths because of covid. Covid doesn’t kill anyone.
They will not cover my medical expenses when I become ill. They will not pay the 4000 for my ambulance ride if I need one. But they will make me come in? I got news for them: I walk out of the job and leave them high and dry. The company will fall, trust me. Gonna make very clear why I left and how awful of a people they are. Come sue me.
This is honestly the first time in my life I’ve wished I were already old, so I’d have less fucked-up future to look forward to. I’m only 56. Family history suggests I could live to 90+. Is the US of A even going to exist in 40 years? Should it? I feel like between the inevitable Balkanization of this federal republic, the systemic administrative failure to address public safety (including plague management) in an effective way, and the likelihood that 50% of today’s teenagers are going to simply disengage (why try to be a good citizen when nobody can seem to agree on what that is?), the last almost-half of my life is going to be a nonstop shitshow. Why can’t I be 80 already, with less of that looming.
I wouldn’t say that you’ve lost your mind, but you have not updated your beliefs about the pandemic to reflect the current state we are in. You are interpreting the current metrics of the pandemic in the context of last winter. A year ago we didn’t have widely available vaccines and (imminently) effective prophylactics. Thankfully, your predicted wave of hospitalizations and death will not materialize. COVID is heading towards endemicity, and always was going to frankly. We have the tools to deal with that outcome.
Are you daft? The hospitalization crush already has happened. We are at a record-setting level of COVID hospitalizations, dwarfing what came last winter. Deaths have not followed, as yet, though those can be 2-4 weeks behind, but it is safe to say that vaccinations and boosters will blunt that wave. The issue was never that Omicron is worse, or that vaccinations don’t work — it’s that treating the pandemic like we’re done with it doesn’t mean it’s done with us. We’re still under a systemic crush across hospitals, schools, retails, airlines, and so forth. All because we cannot be bothered to even *attempt* to control this thing. Relying on vaccinations is not enough. We need mask mandates. We need clear guidance from the CDC on what masks to wear. We need testing capabilities that are not overwhelmed. My beliefs are perfectly aligned with the reality around us.
To claim that we are ‘dwarfing’ our last peak is an exaggeration. According to ‘Our World In Data’ (OWID), the greatest peak in the US previous to the omicron wave was ~133k. For the omicron wave up to this point, OWID is reporting 155k hospitalizations which is a 16% increase on the previous peak. Of course, unlike last winter’s wave, this wave is tragically fully avoidable if we had a higher vaccination rate, which is hovering at around 62% of the populations according to OWID. We’ve been hovering around the 60% mark for a while now so what do we do about those pesky anti-vaxxers, skeptics and slackers going forward? They are causing a real problem for the rest of us!
Enter Pfizer and Merck (but mostly Pfizer). Pfizer’s Paxlovid phase 2/3 trial showed a “reduced risk of hospitalization or death by 89% (within three days of symptom onset) and 88% (within five days of symptom onset) compared to placebo”. So now when those infected (read the unvaccinated) start to show symptoms, their treatment will be a drug regiment at home instead of becoming progressively more ill and ending up in a hospital bed.
When Paxlovid (and to a lesser extent Molnupiravir) is full available (ie a couple months), the pandemic will, for all intents and purposes, be over. We can argue about what to do in the meantime while we get to that point, but to me it seems obvious.
Those who remain defiant and have have ignored any sort of safety precautions will continue to do so at their own risk. That is true irregardless of mandates and CDC guidance. For the rest of us, it’s pretty clear what we need to do to protect ourselves. Boost and wear a mask. This will be over shortly.
Yes, the wave was tragically avoidable.
But yes, a 16% increase of hospitalizations from a time when hospitals were crushed is still a bad peak, a wave, a crush. What, you think that’s a good thing? Don’t dismiss.
And there is no good science behind “this will be over shortly.” Omicron will settle. More variants are likely to rise. There is no science to suggest this is an automatic end to the pandemic.
That’s on the way. Pfizer and Merck both have EUA from the FDA late December for their COVID pills that do exactly that. Once these are widely available, it should clear up hospital capacity.
Being a fellow gamer this is my favorite… “It feels like gaslighting not from a single-source, but in a miasma that surrounds you. It’s area-of-effect gaslighting.”
No you’re not crazy Chuck… unless a bunch of us all are… I feel like I’m in a horrible nightmare that I can sorta kinda in a waking dream sorta way have some sort of hazy effect on but then no… not really… every day some fresh hellscape… I have lost so many friends/family members over the great divide of beliefs about all of this. It’s the saddest apocalypse ever! And the worst part is these are smart people! They’ve just been brain washed and conned by what they thought was right. It turned out to be soo very wrong and instead of admitting that and reassessing, they just doubled down because they couldn’t stomach being so so wrong.
I never said or implied that a 16% increase was a good thing, nor that this is not a bad wave. I was only comparing the current hospitalization numbers to last winter to refute your claim this current wave dwarfs last years, which by my understanding of the word ‘dwarfs’ it does not. Perhaps this is a pedantic argument.
I disagree, there is “good science” that the pandemic will enter its endemic phase soon. It is the science of vaccine efficacy as well as the efficacy of the new COVID pills. I don’t see a reason why we won’t enter this endemic state given that two-thirds (hopefully more) of the population will be protected by vaccines and the other third will soon have prescriptive medicines that keep them out of the hospital.
I am open and curious to hear your thoughts about where you think this is heading.
Yeaaaaah, I don’t find any consensus on that.
I mean, here’s the basic gist — Omicron was different from Delta, it didn’t evolve from it. There is nothing preventing another variant to emerge, one that is as transmissible as Omicron and as deadly as Delta. What prevents that? Literally nothing. We have spillover into animals, and it can do the reverse back to us. Viruses do not evolve to become more toothless — that’s a misnomer. And the vaccines we have now, which are weaker against Omicron than they were against Delta, might not work even as well against the next variant. (Never mind the fact it’s easy to say, “well, just get vaccinated, but the world can’t just “get” vaccinated. Access to the vaccine remains more limited than it should be, and in this country, way too many people have chosen not to get it, making them pressure cookers for future variants.) Antivirals are great, but must be administered very early in the infection to work. Given the difficulty of getting tests, well, that makes this tricky.
It is possible that selective pressure and general evolution will in fact pull the teeth out of COVID and push this pandemic to endemicity. But there’s no guarantee of that, and it could go the other way, too. We just don’t know and it’s foolish to pretend this is it, this is the upswing we needed.
I have felt the same way for the last two months, and I looked up your blog this week, for that reason. I remember you posted something similar in 2020, and I shared it with people who’d been treating me like I was just hysterical. I would say more, but I could rant all day, and I’m just shutting almost everything out right now.
Is there anybody on the rational side of this thing who doesn’t feel a tension between “I know this isn’t over, and I have to keep doing the right things” and “I’m just so sick and tired of this, and stupid people are out there living normally, so maybe I could, just a little”? The longer this goes, the harder it becomes not to just throw up your hands in disgust, despair, dejection, and say fuck it. Meanwhile, I personally want to strangle all the deniers who are helping prolong this nightmarish hell plague’s reign. But every day I get a millimeter closer to giving up.
Won’t lie, I struggle with this from time to time.
Then I remember that it wouldn’t be “living normally”. Because there’s nothing normal about this situation. I would be taking on a (minimal) risk, and playing a part, however small, in the deaths of vulnerable people in my community, for no good reason whatsoever.
Stupid people aren’t “living normally” either. They’re willingly exposing themselves to a virus that will kill a small percentage of them, cause long-term damage in a somewhat higher percentage, and deaths in a still-higher percentage of their elderly relatives and neighbors. All so that they can stuff their faces at the Golden Corral, or some equally noble cause.
Of course, there are many among us who don’t have my privilege of choice. But those of us who do have a choice can opt NOT to be idiotic garbage humans. Not being a piece of shit still matters to me.
“Living normally” is an illusion, gone forever, never to return. We can deny that, and try to invent ways in which “bravely resist” a virus that, by definition, doesn’t care about our feelings. Or we can take this time to take a step back and reconsider why our sense of “normalcy” depends on the degree to which we engage in mindless consumerism and/or superficial personal relationships.
Thank you for unpacking it and laying it all out. Yes, I also feel like I am losing my mind over this. Even though I am lucky enough to live in a place where about 70 percent of people were masks and at a university with a 90+ percent vaccination rate, and stores require masks. The death rate is staggering and no one seems to notice.
I think the reason we surrendered was due to a variety of factors:
1) It has been proven that people can get the virus more than once. This rules out any form of natural herd immunity. COVID-19 behaves similar to other coronaviruses (for example the common cold), which does not produce lifelong immunity when one gets it. Instead, it only produces a short duration of immunity before one is vulnerable to infection again. Some estimates for how long natural immunity lasts are 4 months are less according to CDC.
2) Getting one variant may not make you immune to other variants of the virus.
3) This virus has a very fast mutation cycle. It has been shown that each variant wave usually lasts about 2-4 months at best.
4) The virus has spread around the globe. Making eradication difficult.
5) Vaccine immunity also wanes over time Some estimate we will need another booster every 4-8 months and the vaccines do not fully block transmission nor sterilize the virus, While they keep people out of the hospitals well and are doing a great job of that, they are not perfect to the level it can eradicate the virus.
6) COVID-19 has been found in at least 29 other animal species including in deer, mink, cats, dogs, hamsters, tigers, cougars, leopards, snow leopards, lions, hyenas, otters, hippos, pangolins, ferrets, and several others.
7) The number of people who do not want to get the vaccines. There is so much
That combination of factors makes eradication of COVID-19 very difficult if not impossible. The cost of continued vaccinations, lock down enforcement, etc are not sustainable for governments. If you go down the list of former ‘Zero Covid’ policy countries that have surrendered, it is startling to say the least. Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, and others that initially pursued zero covid surrendered and many have opened their economies even for tourism or will soon. Currently only China and Hong Kong are still pursuing Zero Covid and disease Expert Michael Osterholm has said in one of his CIDRAP podcasts that he questions how long they will be able to sustain COVID-19 because variants like Omicron, BA4, and BA5 are difficult to stop.
So with eradication and herd immunity gone as possible pandemic endgames. what is the endgame now, as Celine Gounder mentions in one of her articles? The path from here is not clear. One thing is obvious, the COvID-19 coronavirus will remain around as an ongoing disease.Society must make some tough public health decisions about the path and which way we go from here.
From here, the real questions are how much risk do we want to accept and the balance between safety of the public and which activities we want to allow considering there is a COVID-19 risk in every activity we do. Do we stay masked, isolated, and social distanced for life? Do we allow people to go back to work? Do we resume our full social lives, have a more isolated and more distanced social life, or no social life at all? Do we allow shuttered sectors of our workforces to reopen or not especially sectors that involve large groups or a lot of in-person interaction? How will we treat long covid for people who can no longer work? What level risk does the general public want to accept if they get aspects of their lives back? How long can society stay locked down until its other consequences rear their ugly head (poverty, unemployment of some sectors,bankruptcies, people running out of savings who were out of work, lack of exercise, depression, mental health, sub-par education for children, lack of fun, lack of happiness, etc)? Should we allow children and college students to go back to in-person school or not? As you can see there are no easy answers to these questions. The public must now weigh their options here on a society wide basis.