I’ve been thinking about the state of the Covid narrative. Not the broader social and economic story, that will be written by people far more intelligent than me (or is it I?), but the current state of how the US is faring relative to Europe. What I’ve been hearing from both European and American friends follows what I’m reading in the news: The US is doing great! Back to normal! Reopening! And isn’t it sad how poorly Europe is doing in general, and France in particular. (Insert frowny emoji here.)
On one level this is true and a huge testament to what competent leadership is capable of. (I shudder to think of what would be happening right now in the US if the former guy was the current guy.) Hooray for you my US friends! It wasn’t too long ago we were looking at you with horror and concern. Your vaccination program has been nothing short of amazing. But leaving the headlines aside and looking at the numbers, things aren’t so great. Yes, you have 50% of adults with at least 1 shot compared to our 20%. Yes, we’re still in lockdown, while you’re opening up. But per 100,000 people, you have 980 infections vs. our 830. Both numbers are pretty poor and concerning, but at least the rate of new infections is at long last declining in both countries, -16% for the US and -10% for France week over week. (Stats courtesy of Worldometers.) Our vaccination pace is finally accelerating while yours is waning, and the percentage of people who refuse to be vaccinated in the US is troubling. Your vaccination success has come from stockpiling vaccines and raw materials, while Europe has been exporting. Which is bad for us in the short haul, but in the long run no one gets through this unless we all get through this, or there will be a variant that will haunt everybody. The other outcome of this troubled year is that the US will no doubt see a staggeringly large surge of medical-related bankruptcies, something that is unthinkable here.
Despite all that, this is a long-winded way of saying I’m finally optimistic! This is no doubt because we’ve finally gotten our first shots, via a waiting list since we don’t yet qualify. It was the biggest thrill we’ve had in a long time. The call! The rush to the clinic! The weight is lifted, I’ve been looking on the bright side of things ever since. I wonder if Pfizer should start listing euphoria as a potential side effect? We’re busy making plans now instead of living in the ever-present present. We’ll be going to our happy place, Belle Île, in a few weeks, where Mark will do a French language immersion. A group of friends from Montpellier is coming to visit us here in Paris in one fell swoop of a week. I’ve booked our flights for a long-awaited visit to the US. Macron has said he’s looking to open France to fully vaccinated US citizens this summer, and our fall calendar is starting to fill up with potential visitors. The future! Man, have I missed you!
The numbers will continue to wax and wane, and hopefully wane will win.
Cheers my dears! Keep looking to the future!