As we gathered around the fire pit during a break in the rolling thunderstorms last night, the youngest member of our posse suddenly posed the question, "Do you all think we've rounded the corner on the pandemic yet?"
The question has a measure of strength. Nationally, the spread of the Covid-19 virus seems to have plateaued, and remarkably, North Carolina seems to have responded well statewide (compared to many other states) in getting its residents vaccinated. There also is a strong sentiment behind that question about getting us back to something like a maskless normal.
But the rest of us responded with a resounding "No."
Our compadre expanded his question, noting that while he himself has taken the vaccine, he's playing devil's advocate by siding with the non-vaxxers, especially the ones who claim we are rushing into this vaccine without a proper testing period, that indeed, we are all being used as guinea pigs in a global experiment.
One of our members pointed out that the vaccine has been tested, and is actually a version of the vaccine created years ago for SARS using the new mRNA technology.
Another firepitter noted that every vaccine has an element of risk (risk being the operative word here), that your next gulp of beer can send you careening into recovery.
Yet another suggested that we now question the efficacy of vaccines because of the atmosphere of science denial in which we suddenly find ourselves immersed.
The use of the words "science denial" came very close to opening other doors, including the one about climate change. As evidence, this person pointed to the unusual number of severe thunderstorms that have thundered across the southeast in the past week or so. Another member wondered when did tornadoes became regular storm events east of the Appalachians. We just had a winter without anything much more than a snow flurry (I think only one day of school was missed because of snow this year. Weigh that against Covid. Then factor in what vaccines might mean.)
The conversation veered into politics (when does a conversation not veer into politics these days?) while brushing against the science denier faction when it was suggested that several Federal agencies, like the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and even the FCC (not to mention the Center for Disease Control) needed to be depoliticized.
Our young friend remained rooted in his stance, saying he could see the other side of the argument. The discussion never did resolve anything (most never do), and, remarkably, even though the television was giving us the NCAA Tournament, did not devolve into sports. Well, except for a brief mention of how crappy the ACC is this year.
It occurred to me that the fire pit is now a Covid substitute for the coffee shop. The fire pit has its own bubble of friends. Most of us are now vaccinated but we're constantly aware that the pandemic is still hanging over us.
It gives us something to talk about.