Welcome back to the pandemic that never ends! Ever hopeful, last June I changed the name of this monthly journal from “Coronavirus Diary” to “Cerebration,” meaning to use the mind, to think. Plus it sounds like “celebration” which I thought we could do because, no more Covid. It seemed like the worst of it was over. There were vaccines available everywhere. I was so naïve. Here we are almost two years in and the experts still can’t agree on anything except the novel coronavirus is here to stay, in all its variant glory. I give up; my Coronavirus Diary is also here to stay.
A couple of weeks ago, I was reading the “On Parenting” newsletter written by Jessica Grose for the New York Times. I have a grandson now and things have changed a lot since my kids were infants, and I like to keep up on what’s new, so I subscribed. Anyway, Grose mentioned how her 9-year-old daughter was wondering if the pandemic would still be around when she was ready for college, and she goes on to say she wasn’t “quite ready to break down the difference between ‘pandemic’ and ‘endemic.’” That was in the newsletter I received, but she also wrote an op-ed, Your Kid’s Existential Dread Is Normal. that touches on parenting during this pandemic that parents may find helpful.
We keep thinking this will end at some point, this life with masks and vaccines and incredibly selfish people who use neither. But what if we are wrong. What if, without our even realizing it, this pandemic has evolved into an endemic. And why do we never hear “epidemic,” which seems most like what we are experiencing? I looked to the internet and Merriam Webster for answers.
epidemic: an outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time : an outbreak of epidemic disease
pandemic: an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population : a pandemic outbreak of a disease, i.e. a global pandemic
endemic: 2: restricted or peculiar to a locality or region, i.e. endemic diseases. Used in a sentence:
The reality is that the virus will eventually become endemic, like many other pathogens that humanity lives with.— The Editorial Board, WSJ, 21 Dec. 2021https://www.merriam-webster.com/
It turns out that a lot of people are talking about an endemic, with the general consensus being the Covid pandemic will evolve into an endemic in 2022. This year. Pretty much any day now. And that is a good thing, believe it or not.
Omicron might mark the end of Covid-19’s pandemic phase — unless a certain scenario happens, Fauci says. “A disease that is endemic has a constant presence in a population but does not affect an alarmingly large number of people or disrupt society, as typically seen in a pandemic.”
Doctor [Amesh Adalja, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health] thinks COVID-19 will transition to endemic status in 2022. “Adalja said COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere but will likely transition this year to endemic status, meaning it’s always around but we have tools to fight it — things like monoclonal antibody treatments, antivirals and most importantly, vaccines.”
We are on track for Covid to evolve and be treated more like the flu. It’s only taken two years since the defeated former president “admitted to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in early February that he knew the coronavirus was “more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” but the [defeated former] president continued to compare Covid-19 to the flu for weeks following his conversation with Woodward, claiming he “wanted to always play it down.” Forbes, All The Times Trump Compared Covid-19 To The Flu, Even After He Knew Covid-19 Was Far More Deadly
Life goes on, with any luck. I am double masking at work. I start every day with a smile, as soon as I look at a picture of my grandson. I further escape into books. And cooking/baking.
Here’s the best thing I made in January: Short Rib Onion Soup from Smitten Kitchen.
It is not a last minute dinner decision, a thirty-minute meal, or a sheet pan dinner, but you know what? Not everything has to be! It’s not made from pantry ingredients, either. I had to go shopping and buy short ribs and more onions and fresh thyme (my herb garden is dead) and a leek. On the plus side, I had some beef stock in the freezer that was going on six months old and needed to be used immediately, if not sooner. (Please don’t tell me we are all going to die because it was too old or whatever; I used it, we ate it, it was delicious, we lived.)
It took me a good part of the day to make this, but I didn’t mind a bit. First of all, it smells amazing every step of the way, from heavily browning the short ribs to braising them in the oven to caramelizing the onions to broiling the cheese toasts. You can make the short ribs a day ahead, if that helps. My husband and my daughter kept wandering in to see what was cooking, so that was fun.
By the time it was all ready, the incredible smells that had permeated the house all day had us so crazed and hungry we scarfed it down like we hadn’t eaten in a week. (Seriously, which means I didn’t get a picture, so I borrowed this one from Deb Perelman. Thanks, Deb!) Everyone loved it, and if you enjoy an occasional day of slow cooking, I promise you won’t be sorry you made this. (Other than the expense – short ribs are $$$) But I have enough left over for another dinner, and that will take less than thirty minutes. And something to look forward to – a new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is coming in fall 2022!
This village was a book capital. What happens when people stop buying so many books?* This is a wonderful article in the Washington Post about Redu, Belgium, and how they saved this small village by opening bookstores. A lot of bookstores. If you’re familiar with Hay-on-Wye, this is the first “copycat” town.
F.B.I. Arrests Man Accused of Stealing Unpublished Book Manuscripts* The New York Times reported that Filippo Bernardini, an Italian citizen who worked in publishing, was charged with wire fraud and identity theft for a scheme that prosecutors said affected hundreds of people over five or more years.
A Library the Internet Can’t Get Enough Of* Why does this image keep resurfacing on social media? The New York Times investigates this viral photo of an incredible home library.
Finally, I can’t not mention Wordle. Back in December, I discovered this game (from my son? from an article? I don’t remember!) and I fell in love. In case you aren’t on social media, don’t listen to podcasts, or read the news, it is the latest fad to hit the pandemic. It’s an old school word game that you play on a bare bones website. No app. No ads. No sucking you in and playing all day because <gasp> there is only one puzzle to solve each day. It takes me anywhere from five to fifteen minutes to play and it is one of the most satisfying five to fifteen minutes of my day. There has only been one puzzle so far that I couldn’t solve (WHACK) and once I had a twofer – solved it in two guesses (MOUNT). If you want to try it, best hurry – the New York Times just bought it and will be (I’m sure) rolling it into their games app. Although they did say it will be free initially, so kudos NYT on that, for however long it lasts. And honestly, kudos to them for buying it, they could have created their own version. There have been several copycat versions with a twist, like Lewdle, Queerdle, and an archived version, and some wiseasses stole the game, turned it into an app, then tweeted about how they were monetizing it. Apple removed those apps from the App Store (and I’m assuming other app providers did as well, but I don’t know for sure.)
I think one of the most fun things about it is how easy it is to share on social media. You can show your score and it doesn’t give anything away. There’s a Facebook group, (probably several by now, but that’s the one I joined back when there were only a few hundred members – today there are 22,000!) It seems to be mostly on Twitter though, or at least it started out that way. It’s just the spot of fun that we all sometimes need in our day. I’ll write about my other word game obsession, the New York Times Spelling Bee, another day!
Listen to the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast on Wordle: Wordle is a daily dose of delight, despair, and sometimes smugness
As always, thanks for reading and stay safe.
*Thanks to The New York Times and The Washington Post for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to these articles, a lovely perk for subscribers.