I was thrown out of the grocery store yesterday.
For not wearing a mask.
Yep. I was just minding my own business, picking out a perfectly ripe persimmon (who else loves these?!), when the store manager came over to me, scoffing. “*Tsk* Ma’am! Where is your mask?!” he said while doing this flat-palm circular motion around his mouth, similar to a dance move I think I did in middle school.
“Oh, I’m vaccinated,” I said in my most cloyingly sweet voice, smiling and blinking up at him.
“You have to wear a mask!” he yelled, from behind his mask that was all the way up to his eyes, and tucked underneath his glasses.
So I handed him my basket full of probably $100 worth of groceries, and said, “Okay, thanks sir. I’ll take my business elsewhere.”
And promptly turned on my heel and went straight for the door.
Granted, had I had a mask on me, I, of course, would have complied, but I just popped in the grocery after my jog, and was sans mask.
But it was at that moment, that I realized that NYC was back in fear mode, thanks to the Omicron virus.
I was walking around the city today, doing some last minute Christmas shopping, and on every other block, there would be a line of roughly 40-50 people, all waiting ~socially distanced~ to get into one of the CityMD’s or one of the other pop-up covid testing centers that have bought all the vacant real estate, and occupy store fronts literally every half a block.
There were food truck style “on-the-go” testing trucks and tents stationed throughout the city, again…all with lines at least 20 deep.
Restaurants are closing. Schools are going virtual. And masks, as I so abruptly found out, are now mandated in all indoor places again.
In other words, we are back to the dark days of Covid panic, and I am smack dab in the middle of it, whether I like it or not.
And sadly, for good reason. In just three days, the number of Omicron cases in NYC doubled, with over 18,000 cases reported just today alone.
Now, just as an aside, I remember when the number we were counting was deaths, and then when things were simmering down, the media pulled a fast one and switched to counting cases, so as to keep us in a heightened state of fear… but that’s a topic for a different day.
But however you slice it, Omicron is barreling through the city at a record pace. And I blame the notorious “Santacon Pub Crawl” last weekend for the surge. (Just kidding, sort of.)
And this has hit close to home. Just today, in several of my group text threads among my friends, I learned that at least three have tested positive for Covid. Thankfully, they are all mild cases, but please pray for them.
Unfortunately, I’m afraid this is not just another media scare tactic. Omicron is here. And that’s coming from someone who a) hates fear mongering, b) hates wearing masks, and c) hates making a mountain out of a molehill.
I did take a Covid test today — I got the last at-home covid test from the pharmacy today, and praise God, it was negative.
And in fact, as you’re reading this, I will be getting jabbed with my Pfizer booster shot.
But by all accounts, we may be in for a rough few weeks. And for this to be falling on the eve of Christmas traveling, when a potential quarantine would mean missing out on family time, the timing just couldn’t be worse.
It’s times like these where anxiety can really get the best of us. Even though, by all accounts, Omicron is mild – albeit highly contagious, we still can enter that fear mode, where we enter either fight or flight, or clamp up, or shut down, or spiral out of our minds.
Couple that with the lack of control that we all are feeling, helpless to an invisible enemy that has turned neighbor into suspect, and loved one into a potential threat.
And it is in these moments that I have to remember to cling to God. God is with us through our fear, through our suffering, through our pain and uncertainty. He is with us: strengthening us, consoling us, offering us hope, and something to fix our focus on.
“Fear not, for I am with you.” Isaiah 41:10
He instructs us not to live in fear, but rather trust in Him, and that’s exactly what I plan to do…while also doing my part in taking the appropriate precautionary measures.
I am not anti-mask. I am not a covid-disbeliever. I am, however, anti-hysteria. Anti-pandemonium. I am pro-trust. Pro-faith. Pro-common sense proactive measures: ie; wash your hands, don’t touch your face, get vaccinated.
Early evidence suggests that this may be a less virulent strain, but I wanted to just let you know where things are in NYC, as we are usually a precursor of things to come in other states – particularly those run by democrats. Let’s hope that moving forward, we make data-based decisions, and manage our strategies appropriately.
Lord, I pray for this city, I pray for my friends and loved ones who are sick right now. I pray for this world, and the doctors working to put an end to this pandemic.
May we discern where to put our focus and energy, as the world freaks out around us.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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