A Message from One Contact Tracer

I'm tired. I've gone too deep in. I'm down the COVID hole and I can't get out. Nine months ago I took a job as a contact tracer. At the time I found great comfort in being on the front lines, learning all there is to know about this virus, and trying to help contain it.

Now I'm done. It happened slowly but also quickly. One day I just could not bear to hear another story about COVID. I did not want to know how many people were in the household or where they worked. I didn't want to hear about what restaurants they'd eaten at or where they had traveled. One day I was saturated, full to the rim with COVID content and I could take in not one more iota of information.

In the last month, my COVID work has become more vaccine-oriented. I have been helping people find vaccines and working at various vaccination clinics in my county. This has been a nice respite from the contact tracing but it's still COVID and I realize that I'm done with this too. With every person I see getting vaccinated, I see the image of someone I love NOT getting vaccinated. I need a break from it all.

Yesterday I had conversations with three people who were exploding with anxiety about COVID. It was as if a universal emotional dam collapsed and feelings were flooding the atmosphere. I felt it and when I talked to these friends, they obviously felt it too.

What do we do now? We are straddling a crevasse-- one foot in COVID fear and devastation and one foot on COVID recovery and health. Where I live, we are vaccinating people at a pace slightly higher than the national rate, but our case numbers went up 34% yesterday!

How do we step onto the recovery and health side of the crevasse when case numbers are going up like this? Standing like this indefinitely is exhausting. My legs are tired. I have to pee. The ground feels shaky. I just want to step onto one side and rest for a while.

When we were in full-on COVID crisis I felt like I was pushing a boulder up a hill, little by little, step by step, everyday working a little bit to get to the top of the mountain. And while I, and thousands of other people did this, other people were pushing another boulder up the other side of the mountain. There were making a vaccine, figuring out how to get it into people's arms. Now we're at the top of the mountain but there's a chasm. Fuck!

After all this work we just want to rest, maybe have a picnic and sit in the sun. We're so close. If we could just get a break here. I imagine superhuman forces pushing the two sides of the mountain closer together. Maybe if everyone just circled the mountain, counted to three, and pushed, we could close this gap and finally rest. Then we could all take off our masks, hold hands, look into the clear blue sky and breathe.

But we are jumping the gun. From the bottom of the mountain, we're not seeing that little space that still needs to be closed up. We just need to work together for a little bit longer. Joe Biden says July 4th. That sounds good! People, please, let's just get our shit together and push these two broken pieces of mountain together. We are so close. Stay safe. Hold off on the travel and the gathering. Be responsible. We are almost there. Think about how great it will be when the crevasse is closed and we can have that picnic in the clouds.

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