By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Bladine: Pandemic disturbs the days of our lives

Two destructive forces – uncertainty and disruption – continue to converge among people experiencing and suffering from the COVID-19 virus.

Uncertainty breeds fear, and fear creates all sorts of side effects. “When driven by fear and uncertainty,” wrote author Dennis Merritt Jones, “the herd mentality takes over and the stampede is on.”

Jones did add this common sense anecdote: “Uncertainty is not the enemy – the fear of uncertainty is … We can alter the altitude of our attitude by developing an inner knowing that everything will ultimately return to a new normal … As the master teacher once said, ‘This too shall pass.’”

While uncertainty can be cerebral, disruption is more immediate and physical – like being caught in some giant whirlpool of life or driven by swirling winds coming from all directions. Fueled by exponential increases in case counts, COVID-19 is raining disruption onto individuals and families here, around the state, across the the country and worldwide.

Knock on wood, my spouse and self are among 87 percent of Oregonians who haven’t contracted the virus, or at least haven’t been reported. But we’ve experienced the mind-boggling disruption of family, friends, acquaintances and co-workdrs in our homes, our businesses and community.

We are seeing at least temporary closures of child care and various group activities; people are quarantined away from work and school and their daily lives; hospitals are overrun; and people are becoming more dispirited. The level of disruption seems worse because long-held hopes for relief now have been dashed by almost two continuous years of pandemic.

Numbers show this latest, dramatic assault of the virus. Beginning December 1, here are the past seven weeks of Oregon statewide COVID-19 case counts, with Yamhill County counts in parentheses:

6,604 (160) … 4,928 (159) … 5,712 (180) … 7,131 (104) … 16,880 (281) … 47,347 (801) … 56,300 (1,330). That last set is extrapolated from reports of eight days.

There’s uncertainty among two-thirds of Oregonians who are fully vaccinated, as growing numbers of them contract “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections. For them, at least, there almost always is less life disruption as vaccines protect them from serious illness and death.

Meanwhile, despite clear evidence of the need, fewer than 45 percent of Oregonians have added a booster shot to their vaccinations.

It will be many years, many decades, before people come to understand all the changes brought about by this 2020s pandemic. For now, it remains a day-to-day war against uncertainty and disruption, with our best and perhaps only defense being the self-discipline needed to remember that this, too, shall pass.

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