We are now entering what some are calling the post-COVID, or after-COVID, era. I am seeing the shorthand PCE or ACE more often. This means that rather than facing a pandemic, we are living through an endemic. COVID-19 is here to stay.
Living with MS and COVID fears
As a community of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), we are starting to figure out how to navigate this new landscape. I have written previously about what life could be like after COVID. I can only say that, this is not quite what I had expected. I am still concerned. I may be vaccinated and double boosted, but I do not know that I am as protected as someone living without MS. We do not have the data to show otherwise.
This country has seen the expiration of many regulations regarding mask-wearing. The CDC has changed guidelines to eliminate the need to wear masks indoors.1
Many state and local leaders have followed suit. As the population continues to get restless and COVID-related deaths are no longer in our faces 24/7, life seems to be moving on. The immunocompromised, which includes multiple sclerosis patients, are watching carefully.
COVID is no longer leading the news cycle or dominating social feeds. Maskless faces are not startling. From the safety of my vehicle, I watch as more and more people ditch their face coverings. As a person living with MS, it is a gut punch. It is just another step towards learning to live with this deadly virus.
An endemic? What's that like?
Rather than stamping out COVID-19, the current goal seems to be accepting that it exists and will continue to kill many people every day. Vaccinations, post-infection interventions, and other lifesaving methods are simply a part of our national lexicon.
Coming down with COVID is now said to be inevitable. Many of us living with multiple sclerosis, work so hard to stay safe, yet are still being infected with the virus. I guess we are to shrug our collective shoulders and march on towards life activities as there were prior to the beginning of 2020. That may work for some. Me? I am fearful.
The fear is not going away
A large portion of the U.S. is celebrating the "end" of COVID. They are stepping outside tentatively without masks. I am not one of them. I keep a stash of N95 and KN95 masks in my vehicle and purse. I do not want to be without one, just yet.
The risks associated with COVID-19 do not just disappear. Living with MS means that vaccinations may not be as effective as it is in other populations. Hospitalization as a result of being infected is real. Even if my chances are reduced, I know that COVID could be a killer for me where it is becoming a nuisance to others.2
I’m not changing
As I wrote earlier, I am vaccinated and double boosted. I understand that I am likely to stay out of the hospital should I catch COVID-19.2
This is something I know intellectually. I trust science. Yet, I am just a bit wary of this PCE or ACE existence. I would like to join the maskless soon. Just not right now.
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