It’s been almost two years since California issued a statewide shelter-in-place order on March 19th, 2020. It’s been about seven months since my last post in this series, and back then, the big concern was the Delta variant. Back then, the 7 day death average in the US was 362 people:
These days, governments are starting to ease restrictions because the new variants aren’t as deadly, the populations have learned to do proper social distancing, and the health care systems are better equipped, so death numbers have dropped dramatically:
Now, instead of 362 people dying each week,
we’re down to 259 per day.
If this is what getting better looks like,
I’m sure glad things aren’t getting worse.
So why are governments easing restrictions?
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this by any means, but I’m just making notes here for myself so I can remember what was happening. Having said that, I think it boils down to:
Everybody who wants to take precautions, can. Vaccines and masks are widely available.
People who don’t want to, won’t. Due to a long chain of missteps and coincidences over the last couple of years, COVID19 turned from a health issue into a political issue. In the US, it’s treated the same way as gun control and abortion control: completely illogically. (For my international readers: one US political party says guns good, scalpels bad. Their opponent says guns bad, scalpels good. Everybody’s a fan of killing kids here, we’re just arguing about how they should die. I think that’s how this works.)
COVID fatigue is real. Even the people who want to take precautions are starting to get tired of it and let their guard down. I’m in a pretty sheltered condo complex in Cabo, with lots of strong ocean breezes all the time, and I’m not usually within 6′ of anyone else. I don’t wear a mask because I’m constantly breathing air right off the ocean, literally. However, there have been times when I walked from my place to downtown, and I outright forgot to bring a mask altogether. Had to pick one up from a restaurant before I walked in.
COVID theater is real, too. For example, in Cabo, you can walk down a street intermingled with dozens of other people next to you, and then walk into a completely open-air restaurant with no walls. In order to step foot “inside” – to walk up to the hostess stand – you have to wear a mask. You wear the mask for the 10′ walk from the hostess stand to your table, and then…immediately take off the mask. It’s all the same air. Nobody’s really protected by that kind of theater. I can understand why governments would cave and say, “alright, we’re not doing this correctly.”
Legalities are starting to set in. While governments were comfortable putting in emergency restrictions temporarily, they’re starting to realize that they can’t require certain things from private businesses. Determined individuals are making noises about suing if their rights are violated. <sigh>
In-person events and offices are coming back.
I mentioned that I’m prepping and packing for SQLBits – well, I’m going in person because I’m as prepared as one can be (armed with two shots of Pfizer and two of Moderna), and I’ll be masking and socially distancing as much as practical.
It’s a hybrid event: attendees can either attend in person, or online. In-person attendance is definitely way down. My Bits pre-conference workshops usually sell out with 100-200 seats, but there are only around 60 folks registered for the in-person seats at mine, and mine’s one of the top-selling workshops. The lower turnout is a blessing, though, since that makes it easier to socially distance.
Offices have been gradually announcing their return to work as well. The latest news was Google’s Bay area employees are required to return to in-office work starting in April. Most of my clients are still a mix of remote and in-person.
In-person only tells half the story.
I think we’re still only halfway into the pandemic.
You can see by those death rates earlier in the post that we are nowhere near out of the woods. Things are as bad as they’ve ever been, and we’re just riding one of the waves. All it will take is one more variant, especially a more severe one, and we’ll be right back in the thick of the death numbers. It’s not like people are learning their lesson about safety.
The chip shortage and global logistics issues are still a hot mess, too. You can’t walk into a car dealer and buy the car you really want. A US home builder I know is quoting new home sales on a 2-year backlog – if you pay your money now, you won’t move in for 2 years, and you have to actually win the house. They only offer 2 new houses a week because they’re so backlogged, and there’s a bidding war on each one.
And of course, Russia just invaded Ukraine, triggering all kinds of financial sanctions. That’s going to exacerbate the supply chain issues.
I don’t think anybody ever looks at the news and goes, “This right here, these are the good times. We’re going to look back on these with fondness.” However, I think right now might actually be a nice little inflection point. A lot of things are open, if you wanna go. A lot of people have disposable income they can spend. People are dying, but less people than last month.
I think right now might actually be the good times for 2022. I think it’s gonna get worse. I’m not upset with that – I’m actually really happy that we get to enjoy things at the moment, and I’m really excited to see people at Bits.
Before, uh, I have to hunker down again.