For a lot of people, the world is now post-pandemic. The more than 2,400 people who died in the US from covid last week apparently did not get that memo. Data worldwide is much harder to measure but a low estimate of total deaths so far is 6.8 million people. Those are the numbers when we speak of death. But Sars-CoV-2, it has become abundantly clear, is also a mass disabling event.
I try really hard not to be a bitter person. In my interactions with other people and in my writing, I do my utmost to move from a place of love and solidarity. But there is also always rage, too. I am deeply angry at the situation we are in, that has been unfolding for the last three years, particularly within the US: the “let it rip” approach from institutions and elites. There is no attempt to keep the greatest number of people healthy and alive. Instead, it seems, we are being subjected to an attempt to desensitize the greatest number of people to the conditions of others. We are being actively socialized away—more viciously than before–from caring about our mutual and collective well-being.
And, if I am honest, on most days, I struggle seriously with the extent to which this socialization has been effective on many people I know.
Let me be clear: the Biden administration policies, the CDC policies, are not “guided by the science.” Many, many of the decisions that have been made in the last two years since Biden took office were not as a result of any changed or new scientific finding and this is clear from the statements made. An example: the reasoning for limiting and changing quarantine and isolation policies did not occur because of a new finding or understanding of the disease; it was driven by market-based reasoning not to keep people home when they were actively sick and making others sick because too many industries were short-staffed (another way to approach this problem could have been rethinking our systems so that we can function without literally pressing people into service, but you know, to each their own I guess!). In turn, the changing of these policies and the messaging around them has made it nearly impossible for anyone to do the right thing, because employers and schools everywhere are always “following CDC guidelines.”
It is a fact that it is better for everyone when there is less virus in the air. This is especially true when the virus is one that can kill and permanently disable. Covid, and doing what we can to prevent its spread, is an issue of disability justice, of racial justice, and of solidarity with the working class.
I have more to say about all of this than I think I could possibly write or that anyone might sit down and read. The main thing I want to say is that even though we are all being actively failed and sacrificed by these institutions, that does not mean it is time to give up and go along. There are always ways to do more or less harm, and there are always ways to win things back once they have been lost. It is worth trying to keep the truth straight even when we are being gaslit, because things get worse when you give totally in to the gaslighting. I know that it is hard. I know that it is exhausting, and I know that the world is not making this easy. But: don’t give up. Everything you do to fight this death-making machine matters.
Below I am sharing some resources on how to work with people to create covid protocols, what kinds of covid protocols you might want or need, processing your feelings or the larger impact to our interactions, and just learning more about covid. I want to add that if you are organizing an event of any kind, it is extremely helpful to state upfront what mitigations you do or do not expect. I realized recently that despite vaccination and booster shots, I go to fewer things than I did in 2020 because now it is so much rarer for people to be clear on the flyer/social media post about whether or not they are requiring masks, have a good ventilation system, or are even thinking about covid.
- Great set of suggestions for how to plan an event that does not exclude disabled people: https://www.instagram.com/p/Co3FQlKOctU/
- Same thing in Spanish: https://www.instagram.com/p/CpDdu1-uvDP/
- Podcast episode on the left/organizing and covid: https://soundcloud.com/deathpanel/organizing-and-covid-19-part-1-021623
- Trustworthy compilation of info on status of covid in US: https://peoplescdc.org/weatherreports/
- Why 2023 feels so isolating: https://www.pestemag.com/lost-to-follow-up/broken-sociality
- Overall great podcast on disability, health justice, covid, and more: https://www.deathpanel.net/
- Ideas for how to apply boundaries and consent practices to covid to protect each other: https://truthout.org/articles/covid-has-become-indefinite-we-need-new-practices-to-keep-each-other-safe/
- Great example of how to plan a fun “covid safer” party (not my party): https://twitter.com/DrMegKrausch/status/1582039376154202117