May 5, 2022
Washington In the hassle that air travel has become over the last several years, I was out of the house by 4am for a 6am flight, regardless of having already printed my boarding pass, having no luggage to check, and getting to go through a fast line. You have to hedge your bets, right?
I parked my truck in long term and walked towards the door. I was ready with several masks and planned to stop and put one on before walking in. But, wait, I started watching other travelers going in without masks. I saw airline and airport workers unmasked. I had suddenly gone back in time somehow to another reality, so different from the one I had seen over the last two pandemic years. It was no mas masks all the way, including at the gate and even, I know this is hard to believe, inside the plane. Sure, there would be the occasional “chin guard”, where someone was ready to prop a mask up if accosted, but there are more masks on a regular day in a Tokyo airport than there were in either MSY or Newark or DCA, that some call Reagan, when I hit Washington, DC.
Honestly, it felt strange and unexpected, especially since I was headed to Georgetown University and the pre-registration there had been right at the heart of the pandemic. Masks were mandatory for the event, they warned, but they weren’t playing around on vaccinations either. They required preregistration, including uploaded pictures of my vaccination card, both sides even. Emails went back and forth on whether or not I was approved. I’ve been to foreign countries with less preparation. This morning at 330 am I had an email from them that said it was an “attestation.” I wasn’t familiar with this program, but basically it was a questionnaire asking me to swear I had no symptoms, and then confirming both from the event and from Georgetown, that I was good to go.
It wasn’t an out of body experience as much as a feeling of living in two countries simultaneously: pandemic alert country and pandemic-is-so-over country. Meanwhile the news says that 70% of Americans have been infected over the last two years. WHO says that 15 million have died, finally standing up to India and forcing a realistic count. The annual political journalists roast, featuring President Biden, has now been labeled a super spreader event. My source inside the Louisiana Department of Health confirms that the latest surge is hitting us now and will be in full bloom by June 1st. She says, “if you haven’t had Covid yet, you’re going to get it now.” Days later she texted that she had tested positive, qualifying as a soothsayer of sorts.
Caveat emptor! Your life is in your own hands now, beware!