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By Michelle Goldberg
You’re not supposed to want to get Omicron just to get it over with. In article after article, experts warn against trying to catch the virus in the hope of putting it behind you.
You could end up contributing to the untenable strain on the health care system, they say, or give Covid to someone more vulnerable than you. Treatments will be more widely available in a few months. So even though my impulse, when faced with something both grim and seemingly inevitable, is to get through it as fast as possible, I’ve dutifully taken all the precautions I’ve been told to take, plus a few more.
Until this week, when I’ve found myself squinting at home coronavirus tests and willing a second red line to appear, like years ago when I was trying to get pregnant.
My 9-year-old son tested positive on Tuesday morning, after waking up complaining of a slight sore throat. I often get panicky when my kids are sick, but this time I felt a strange sort of resigned calm. The effort to avoid Covid has, to varying degrees, dominated our lives for almost two years, and now, I figured, I could let it go. Some health authorities will tell you to mask your infected kids while at home, but doing so never crossed my mind; I assumed that given Omicron’s extreme infectiousness, we’d all have it soon enough. My daughter tested negative, but it seemed responsible to keep her home from school, too.
I hoped that after a couple terrible weeks, this would be over for us. I pictured a winter full of warm indoor dining, movies and play dates with families who wouldn’t have to worry about us getting them sick with Covid.
So we’ve been waiting. And so far, nothing has happened.
Here’s the part where I acknowledge my privilege. My family is healthy, vaccinated and insured. My son’s symptoms lasted less than a day. Being without child care sucks, but for us it’s not a calamity; my husband and I both have flexible jobs and understanding bosses. (I worried that my son might have infected our babysitter on Monday, but so far she’s tested negative.) My husband got a bunch of rapid tests from work, and I found a pharmacy that would deliver more. We’re fine now and will probably still be fine if and when Covid hits us.
But this limbo — which all sorts of families are now enduring — is awful. It’s hard to appreciate being well when you’re expecting to be ill imminently. They say people are contagious one to two days before they first get symptoms and two to three days after, and that the virus takes about three days to incubate. So while I’m surprised that the rest of my family doesn’t have it yet, we could easily have it soon. Dreading quarantine, I hadn’t considered the worse possibility of rolling quarantines, if each of us gets sick days apart. I just want to get it over with.
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