Hi! I hope everyone is having a nice holiday season. I’ve had better.
For nearly the past three years our family avoided covid infection (for our own health and to avoid spreading to more vulnerable folks) by taking precautions we felt were commensurate with the risk: wearing masks in public, making tough choices about which gatherings were safe to attend, choosing outdoor venues for our own gatherings when possible & increasing ventilation and air quality when not, testing regularly, isolating when exposed. Catie and I were lucky to be able to get vaccines pretty early, and I drove our son to a HyVee in Rochester, the closest I could find, the first day the vaccines were available for his age group.
Unfortunately, these individual choices and actions were not enough, and we succumbed to infection shortly before Christmas. While by most measures our infections have been mild cases, early on Christmas Day my BP dropped from my high fever and I fainted while trying to use the bathroom. I spent the morning in the ER and will be sporting an unintentional new smoky eye looq for a bit.
So many people have been very kind and delivered food and other necessities and diversions, and we’re very thankful for such good friends and family.
We’re doing okay now, had already met our health insurance deductible for the year, and I was already taking this time off so there’s no lost income or large expenses hitting us, something that I’m very aware is a privilege many do not have.
What I would really, really love for each of you to do is to please continue to take this public health emergency seriously. I know it’s been a long time. I know masks are uncomfortable. I know your personal risk of hospitalization is probably lower now than it was pre-vaccine and pre-omicron. But it is still very much a risk.
New variants and reinfections will continue if we don’t control the spread. A study published in November in Nature Medicine shows an increased risk of long term illness and death with each reinfection. And there are still lots and lots of beautiful humans that are immunocompromised and are at great risk if infected and they need your help to survive.
There’s also increasing evidence that covid infections impair immune systems in otherwise healthy individuals for months, years, maybe permanently, even in mild cases. While immunity debt is a plausible explanation for some of the increase in flu, RSV, and even common colds and pink eye, filling hospitals and clinics and making common medicines scarce, a July 2021 study showed deficiencies in dendritic cells, which are responsible for initiating antigen specific immune responses, seven months post infection even in patients with mild cases. Seems reasonable to me to assume that’s making an impact in those case numbers as well.
So friends, please, whenever you are able to, wear a well fitting respirator style mask in public spaces. Get your booster or your primary series if you still haven’t done that. Open some windows when gathering. Add some HEPA filters to your home or business and install MERV 13 or better filtration in your air handler. Build some Corsi-Rosenthal boxes for your child’s classroom, your workplace, and your place of worship. My individual choices and actions weren’t enough to eliminate my risk, but these relatively simple things done collectively can make a huge difference.