HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRIPEVINE: OUR NEW ABNORMAL
For me, it’s always been pretty straightforward. We wear the face masks so that when we talk, or cough, we aren’t spreading droplets, or possibly infecting others. The face shield, in turn, is for our protection – if there are persons who won’t properly socially distance, we have a line of defense against their droplets or respiratory ailments. To be honest, I’m perpetually forgetful about the shields, and my going out of my condo is marked by a trail of face shields that I’ve forgotten and left behind in the various places I’ve been to.
So hearing about the possible shift to goggles simply boggled my mind. Is there really no rhyme or reason to how we go about addressing this pandemic? It’s enough that the shields have become a controversial point of discussion; but do we really have to even seriously consider goggles as an alternative? To my mind, it’s clear: simply dispense with the need for shields (or goggles), or maintain their mandatory presence – and let’s stick to the shields we all have.
If we read the Tuesday Health column of Dr. Salvana, he would say there is scientific data to support how we’ve pushed for the mask/shield combination. But as it’s only Peru and the Philippines, as I understand it, who have mandated the use of this combination; it’s hard to view the rest of the world, observe how they’ve been progressing to “normalcy,” and believe we’re doing it the right, and only, way. Shields have become emotional and psychological issues of the day, and when that happens, as in the case of who we support for the coming elections, reason and logic fly out the window.
They’re emotional issues because for those opposed to the government, they’ve become symbolic of the ineptitude and knee-jerk reaction by the government. The move to goggles has even been criticized by some quarters as an obvious sign that the administration can’t squeeze more money out of the citizenry via the sale of shields; so hence, the talk of goggles.
Psychologically, we’re all suffering from COVID fatigue, and as the alert levels progressively go down, we’re grasping at any measure that can be considered a step down from the stringent health and safety protocols that we’ve been ruled by for such a long period of time. And this is exacerbated by the fact that practically nowhere else in the world has this use of shields been in effect. So shields become an easy mark of how we’ve been so “exagg” in handling this health crisis.
But are we as ready, as they are in other countries, to “live with COVID”? Is our contact tracing really an effective on-ground tool that we can rely on should a new outbreak occur? Are we closing in on any semblance of herd immunity? While talk in the West and most advanced nations are about booster shots, do we even have such specifically designed boosters in the pipeline? Simply going for a fresh round of first generation vaccine isn’t the same as getting a booster shot, as defined in these first world nations.
I know I’ve left the last paragraph asking more questions than there are ready answers – but that’s because from my perspective, that’s the reality of the situation we now face. Yes, economic activity needs a shot in the arm, people need jobs as there are so many unemployed, and the holiday season would be the best opportunity to jumpstart all of that. But the inescapable truth is also that COVID has not suddenly disappeared.
Speaking of disappearing, there are times I wish the 2021 elections would just vanish. If there’s The Boy Who Cried Wolf fable; here in the Philippines, we have The Candidate Who Said He/She Won’t Run. If with Aesop’s fable, the villagers got tired of the boy’s histrionics, ending in a very painful lesson for him to learn; here, it would seem we haven’t reached that point of dismissing those who keep saying they won’t run, but are really just turning it into an overworked drama.
It’s truly a case of the circus has come to town, and it’s time to send in the clowns. If you go back to 2016 and gave me a taxicab for every candidate who kept remonstrating that they weren’t running for president, or some other national office, only to make a brazen turnaround and claim it’s the will of the people – I’d be sitting pretty, with a whole fleet of taxis.
Time and again, it’s the same overused script; the same change of heart, the use of substitution, or withdrawal of candidacy for a particular position only to reappear for another office – that you’d think, we the electorate, would be jaded by now. But no, like lemmings jumping off a cliff, we’re so ready to be duped and fooled each time, ready to shower our enthusiasm for these double-faced dissemblers.
I don’t know about you, but it’s mind-boggling to me how often we’re so ready to play this game, and fall for the same moro-moro. In the meantime, the supporters of these candidates are the worse endorsements for their chosen ones. Each side ready to play holier than thou, and doing a great disservice to their candidates. So exhausting, so filled with bitterness, and so repetitive – but like Pavlov’s dog, we’re so ready to salivate and wag our tails.