It is easy to feel immobilized upon hearing the recent, sudden surge in the number of fresh COVID cases in the news, and the anecdotes of family, friends and acquaintances who have felt symptoms associated with the virus in recent days.
Even the unavailability of over-the-counter medicine for simple ailments like fever can cause anxiety among us who, up until a week ago, believed we were well on our way out of the crisis and into the new normal.
But we were told this was bound to happen, and not just because of a few reckless, irresponsible individuals who skipped quarantine and mingled with others during a period when they should be isolating in the comfort of their hotel rooms.
Experts say the surge in recent days is a result of the more transmissible variant of the virus, and more importantly, our collective behavior of letting our guard down in the days leading to and immediately following Christmas.
In those days, it seemed safe to move around and relax our usual protocol. After all, the numbers had significantly gone down from their peaks. There was also the human craving for connection — and not the one from behind a screen — sharing a meal, stories, and some laughs, with people we have not spent time with in almost two years.
In doing so, we put our masks down and, perhaps emboldened by the knowledge that we have been vaccinated, reveled in the feeling of invincibility.
As we know now, we have been proven wrong.
How do we deal anew with the frustration that COVID-19 is still very much around, and with the instinct to retreat into the safety of our homes like we did in March and April 2020?
Foremost, acknowledge the simple truth that COVID will not be going away for a long time. While it is no longer novel, we should not underestimate its capacity to surprise us or present new challenges. The virus is here to stay, and instead of wishing for it to be gone, we will be better off planning our days with its constant threat in mind.
Meanwhile, we have already learned many things from our successes and failings — mostly the latter— in the past 16 months. We have seen how making decisions based on science and good sense trumps hasty pronouncements made out of fear, greed, arrogance or ignorance.
We should already have learned, too, that crucial to battling the virus are a robust healthcare system, with frontliners compensated and taken care of for their invaluable service, as well as an aggressive vaccination drive coupled with a campaign to enlighten people who may think vaccines, or masks, are just an imposition.
There is no need to hide under the proverbial rock again, even as we should not ignore the alarming developments of the past few days. But we could navigate this crisis anew if we shun binary thinking, reject information that does not have sound basis in fact, and simply act out of practical care, consideration and courtesy.
Finally, a few months from now, we will elect leaders anew. It is almost certain that COVID-19 would still be here, so the least we can do is base our decision on how capable a leader the candidates could be at a time of protracted crisis.