Editorial: The Grip Is Loosening

Editorial: The Grip Is Loosening

What a difference a few weeks can make.

In January, as the calendar turned from 2021 to 2022, things felt very much the same as they had throughout the previous year or two. Connecticut remained in the grip of COVID-19. The omicron variant was surging through the country, leaving a wake of record-high case rates and hospitalization numbers.

Events were once again being canceled. People were scrambling for at-home tests and N95 masks. When Cheshire received its allotment of state-provided testing kits, the handout event resulted in a line of cars so long it could have potentially been seen from space.

There wasn’t much positivity to be found, aside from the rates at which people were contracting the virus.

Now, as we enter the first week of March and prepare for the arrival of spring later this month, things have changed … dramatically.

Masks have become optional almost everywhere, including in school buildings where the fight over that particular mitigation protocol has been most fierce. Mandates of all kinds are being lifted in different parts of the state and country. Events that were forced to cancel for two years have announced plans to return, and to return to pre-pandemic formats. Locally, it seems people are looking to do more as they did before the arrival of the virus.

Last weekend members of the Cheshire community — Board of Education officials, members of high school athletic teams, and more — arrived at Sloper Pond at Camp Sloper to take part in the annual Sloper Plunge. The event took place last year, however no crowds of onlookers were in attendance, no teams allowed to mingle. Participants were asked to take their plunge solo and record the moment for others to watch at a later date. This year, it was back to the old format, and the numerous smiling faces and cheers from the crowd were a testament to how far things have come in such a short amount of time.

As everyone has warned since the beginning of this terrible pandemic, nothing is guaranteed when dealing with a health crisis. Is it possible that, as quickly as things have turned in the last month-plus, they could turn again and not in a good way? Of course. If there’s one thing the last two years have taught us, it’s that we aren’t very good at playing the predicting game when a virus is involved.

It’s also true that the “loosening” has been happening for some time, and the word “lockdown” has been used far too liberally to describe our state of being throughout much of 2020 and 2021. Aside from the first few months of the pandemic, things have been open for a while, albeit with certain restrictions in place.

Yet, this time it feels different. There have been other points in this crisis when the numbers showed positive trends and a diminishing virus, but on each of those occasions the positive feelings were tempered by an unshakable sense, a fear, that the other shoe was about to drop. It doesn’t feel that way at the moment.

Just as there was no official start date to this pandemic, there will be no official end. Many have begun to use the word “endemic” to describe our state of being when it comes to COVID-19 — a nod to the fact that the virus will be with us indefinitely and will need to be dealt with accordingly.

But, with cases on the decline and hospital numbers more than manageable, it seems as if most people have decided the way forward is to go back. Our lives will never be the same as they were in 2019, but right now it appears our post-pandemic world has a chance to look more like the pre-pandemic one we left behind in 2020, something that didn’t seem all that likely just two months ago.


The Herald Buzz

Follow the Cheshire Herald on Facebook & Twitter