John O’Connor

Many among us are wishing, hoping and even praying for a return to normalcy. Yep, it’s been that kind of a year.

It’s hardly necessary to point out the damage that has been inflicted on our sector and the nation. It’s in plain view, for all to see.

Yet thanks to new medicines, precautions and other interventions, our ride on the pandemic Tilt-A-Whirl won’t last indefinitely. And for what seems like the first time in a long time, it doesn’t seem silly to consider better days ahead.

At this point, most of us have had more than our fill of what that nasty little virus has dished out, especially when it comes to compromised health and liberties. Some among us, frankly, are jumping the gun a bit in an effort to embrace old routines. Not that it’s hard to see why. If there’s a universal sentiment about COVID-19, it’s this: enough, already!

So last week’s new and less restrictive guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could hardly have come at a better time.

Specifically, the CDC noted that fully-vaccinated nursing home residents could resume dining activities without masking or social distancing restrictions. It also permits visitations and personal contact among residents and visitors who are fully vaccinated. If visitors and residents are both fully vaccinated, they can visit without masks and without social distancing as long as they are alone in their room or in a visitation room without unvaccinated individuals.

The agency also eased guidance for fully vaccinated healthcare workers.

“In general, (they) should continue to wear source control while at work. However, fully vaccinated (workers) could dine and socialize together in break rooms and conduct in- person meetings without source control or physical distancing,” the guidance notes.

Two years ago, such recommendations might have sounded authoritarian. But after what we’ve endured, they are practically a reprieve.

But lest we assume that the pandemic is beginning its death rattle, India offers a painful reality check. On Thursday, the country’s health ministry reported 397,257 new coronavirus infections, as well as 3,645 related deaths. There, hospitals are filled, patients are being turned away, and gravediggers are working around the clock. Things are so bad that there is not enough wood to meet the heightened demand for cremations.

So let’s not get ahead of ourselves. To be sure, progress is being made. But this fight is far from over. We assume otherwise at our own peril.

John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s