Environment The Virus


We want to believe the human race will persevere, that our survival is part of a grand plan.

A gaunt doe tiptoes across the lawn, unaffected by the logging truck hissing down the road behind her. There goes your habitat. I would love to let her stay here and eat, but she’s heading for my zinnias, so I open the door and watch her hop over the fence.

The sign outside Chatham Marketplace says “Masks welcome” and in small print at the bottom “Unvaccinated must wear masks.” But of course, there is no way to tell who’s had the jab and who hasn’t.

I have my favorites: the black mask that hangs on a back-door coat hook, the red one that I keep in our Subaru, and the blue mask that lives in the door pocket of our blue Volt. I’ve tucked a green Chatham Marketplace mask into my purse and stocked the glove box with N-95’s and 94’s.

I never stopped wearing a mask in public, even when the pandemic was in recession — before the Delta variant began circulating in Chatham County. I wash them, hang them in the sun to dry, and carry them back to their posts. They are the smallest of insurance premiums, along with online shopping and socializing outdoors. I like to stack the deck in my favor.

I’m a little irked by the unvaccinated. This might be over, all this mask-wearing, were it not for the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. But now that Delta has arrived, it’s too late for that kind of thinking. The virus will continue replicating, bouncing from one under-immunized human to another, getting better at contagion, crippling economies, burning out health care professionals, many of whom, inexplicably are also unvaccinated.

In Vaxed, waxed, but definitely not relaxed: Welcome to the pandemic swerve, Maura Judkis of The Washington Post writes:

The best way to describe what we’re going through right now is the prisoner’s dilemma, says Gretchen Chapman, a professor of psychology who studies vaccination decision-making at Carnegie Mellon University. Vaccines, as with the classic game theory model, provide a collective reward when everyone cooperates, though individuals may have personal incentives not to cooperate. If not enough individuals cooperate, then the people who did the right thing suffer the consequences.

And the truth is, only wealthy countries can afford to vaccinate enough of their people to produce herd immunity and it was only a matter of time before the virus upped its game. Now, it’s every man for himself and I’m doing everything I can to stay out of the hospital.

My father says the virus is God’s (or Nature’s) way of addressing overpopulation. Like many, he wants to believe there is a plan, that someone out there has the blueprints, that there is a system with built-in checks and balances.

I’d like to believe we’re smart enough to stay ahead of nature, that we won’t replicate until we run out of food like the White-tailed deer, or unwittingly unleash a super-bug that changes life on earth forever.


By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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