Living in Society

Living with the Coronavirus

Sunrise in Big Grove Township, June 2, 2021.

On Tuesday the number of U.S. deaths due to COVID-19 surpassed 600,000. If the pace of COVID-19-related deaths in Iowa continues as it is today, it will continue to be one of the leading causes of death in the state. While the Biden administration’s plan to address the coronavirus pandemic is showing positive results, there is a steady grind of cases and deaths that won’t go away.

COVID-19 vaccine is available at no cost everywhere, mostly on a walk-in basis at pharmacies and medical clinics. There is no vaccine for young children yet, but there will be. About half of Iowans have been vaccinated and the goal is to reach 70 percent of the population. Vaccine hesitancy is a thing here. It will be difficult to get enough people vaccinated. The consequence of failure to vaccinate enough is the virus will continue to spread among unprotected people, and variants of the virus can be propagated, potentially requiring a booster shot to defend against them.

While trail-walking yesterday I met a neighbor I’ve known since we moved here. He pulled his recumbent bicycle to the side of the trail and we chatted for a bit. When you’ve known someone going on thirty years there is a lot to discuss. We are both glad the pandemic restrictions on social interaction have begun to ease. It has been a heck of a year, we agreed.

My personal work docket is filling again, although life is not like it was before the coronavirus pandemic. There are new priorities. Things we used to do without much consideration are called into question. The world shifted and the feeling is palpable. Combined with abnormally dry weather conditions and looming drought, the feeling is unpleasant.

Life goes on. The garden is full of blooms — tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers, beans and tomatillos. There are insects, yet I fret about whether pollination will occur in time. I’m doing what I can to encourage bees by letting the clover in the lawn grow, letting mustard and arugula plants to go to flower, and advising the bees there are great blooms just yards way. Well that last may be a bit crazy, but that’s where we are.

The good news is the apple bloom set resulted in almost perfect spacing of the fruit, the best I’ve seen in years. It looks to be a great crop. The mulberry tree is full of ripe fruit sweeter than I remember. There is hope nature will do its work for another season.

I don’t know the meaning of the coronavirus pandemic going forward. It is a shared experience many of us won’t forget. Like so many new things involving humans, we’ll just have to live with it and hope we do better when the next contagious disease outbreak occurs. Those of us that have worked in public health expect another outbreak.

For now, we go on living with the coronavirus.