.Letter to the Editor: Great Risks Remain

More than a year has passed since the pandemic was officially declared (though its seriousness had been known to the U.S. president not just for weeks, but for months).

Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on Stephen Colbert’s “Quaranniversary Show” on March 13—the first time he hasn’t been blocked by that president from doing so. In an answer to Colbert’s question, he sums up what’s changed since January 20: “Everything!” Then we see his wide smile, the one he’d had to suppress in all those deadly “news briefings” in all those deadly months.

Even as Dr. Fauci speaks of the progress made, he also warns that great risks remain, and precautions are crucial, for “normalcy” is still far in the future. Yet folks here in Santa Cruz crowd downtown sidewalks, and the many unmasked sprawl on beaches, stroll down oceanside walkways, even step without permission into stores from time to time.

It wasn’t even a month ago that 500,000 U.S. deaths were marked, our losses at last mourned publicly and presidentially, with somber speeches, half-mast flags and memorial moments of silence. Only three weeks later, another 30,000 have died—a mournful number equally unfathomable, but less often mentioned.

As our town ricochets from one tier to another and reopenings abound, a sense of celebration circles the air (despite the new variants of the virus that also do). The stress is on all the things we now can do, especially those of us who are already vaccinated.

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But I am wary. And weary. Even now, a year along, there are few things I am sure of. First among them: extraordinary measures are still needed. Together with this: I must balance my great gratitude for the progress being rightfully described, even celebrated, with something else that weighs as much—that weighs, in truth, far more: There is still so much we do not know. And I need to attend to (also gratefully, for I am still here to attend to things at all) those far less welcome facts, those far less reassuring, far more daunting truths that are still so much with us.

Wendy Martyna | Santa Cruz

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