COVID-19: Not Gone, But Almost Forgotten

PHOTO COURTESY/ Unsplash Gabriella Clare Marino

PHOTO COURTESY/ Unsplash Gabriella Clare Marino

COVID-19 affected so many people, especially by disseminating fear of catching the virus. As vaccinations started taking place, the streets of New York are no longer empty and more classes are being held physically rather than virtually. Most aspects of life are going back to normal, but another thing that seems to feel “normal” is the existence of COVID-19.

People are starting to get comfortable going out. The streets are flooded with people, Broadway is running again and restaurants are open for those who provide proof of vaccination. For a minute, life felt normal again, until I realized we still have face masks on. 

A year ago, I found face masks to be annoying and I couldn’t wait for the time to come when I could stop wearing it. Now, it feels like it was always something I had to keep on. My overall habits have changed due to the pandemic, and I didn’t even realize it. I never leave the house without hand sanitizers and face masks. COVID-19 tests became a routine for me whenever I caught a cold. I never would’ve thought that when I got a headache, I would start to panic and run to a test center. 

The severe fear of contracting the virus is gone. I am attending on-campus classes every day, and I have been going out with my friends regularly. When I think about it, sometimes COVID-19 seems like something that was always there. It seems like something common, like the flu. We take a shot and go on with our lives. Therefore, I sometimes forget the virus even exists.

Is the virus non-existent, or is it just neglected? It became mentally tiring to have to worry about getting sick every time I walked out of my house. After more than a year, I have heard the word “corona” so many times that I do not remember a time when it did not exist. Seeing people back in school, at work and on the streets was relieving, and the fear of COVID-19 seems to have faded with time, until I completely forgot about it. 

I realized that face masks are still required in indoor settings. The virus never really disappeared. It still exists. The vaccinations give us a sense of security, but it does not mean that the virus isn’t still out there. 

Halloween is approaching and parties are being planned. Unlike last year, the virus isn’t something that will prevent me from attending. I went from being afraid to step out of my front door to feeling comfortable around a group of people. Sometimes I wonder if this is because of the increase in vaccinations, or simply because the idea of COVID-19 has been normalized and accepted. A year ago, the virus was one of my biggest fears. Now, it seems like nothing but another normal sickness.