Woog's World: Delta variant brings back uncertainty

Uh oh.

That’s the feeling many Westporters have these days. The celebratory dances, dinners and dates we enjoyed in the brief weeks of post-vaccine euphoria have given way to a creeping sense of doubt, if not dread. COVID’s Delta variant was near; now it’s here. It’s real, and really worrisome. We feel as if we won the World Series with a grand slam, but now the umpires say the blast was actually foul. We may have to get back in the batter’s box with the bases loaded, two outs, and the count once again 3-2.

To mix sporting metaphors: The ball is once again in our court.

We’re pretty sure we’re not going back to the dark, dreaded and deadly — literally — days of springtime 2020. We are not going to huddle at home, venturing out only for absolutely vital missions, wiping down the many packages Amazon delivers and washing our hands with OCD obsessiveness.

Our children will not return to remote learning, hunching for hours over laptops as disembodied boxes full of teachers and classmates struggle to make sense of lessons, lectures and assignments .

Grandchildren will not spend months away from grandparents, petrified of spreading a fatal illness even standing socially distanced in a yard outside, wearing masks.

Still, we wonder: How different will the coming months and weeks be? And not only from our past experience with the pandemic, but from our expectations of regaining life as we knew it, just a few short weeks ago?

No one knows yet. We’re caught in a weird interregnum, poised between several months of a horror no one could imagine (though scientists had warned us for years that something like this could happen), and a return to a “new normal” whose parameters have suddenly changed.

For what seems like five minutes, we relished the freedom of never wearing a mask again. Now the rules are complicated. We see folks with masks inside Trader Joe’s and the Y, outside at the beach and on the Porch porch. Although we are vaccinated, are we supposed to wear them again now? If so, is it to protect others? Ourselves? How can we keep on top of ever-changing rules and regulations?

Employers keep changing their policies too. We now know their shorthand: RTO (return to office) and WFH (work from home). Once-firm dates and mandates are in flux. After 16 months of WFH, many Westporters are happily ensconced in their HOs (home offices). They long ago upgraded their WIFi, ordered their ergonomic chairs, and settled into routines that involve not working strictly from 9 to 5, and definitely not commuting.

But many other Westporters were happy to get back to the non-home offices. They may not have been happy on Metro-North though, or on the increasingly less reliable New York transit system. So they’ve taken to the roads, with predictable, clogged results.

What does the new Delta variant mean for drivers in Westport? The empty, roll-a-bowling-ball-down-Post-Road-and-not-hit-anyone streets of March and April 2020 were a joy for anyone who was out driving. But of course, no one was.

Now we’ve got the opposite issue: traffic backed up not just on the Post Road and Riverside Avenue; not just on Bridge Street and Greens Farms Road, but on places that never saw trouble before. South Compo? Cross Highway? They’re corollary damage from the pandemic, and no one knows what the Delta variant will mean moving forward. Or should I say, not moving anywhere.

Then there’s the thorny issue of vaccines. As of July 28, about 60 percent of all of Connecticut residents were vaccinated, according to the state Department of Public Health — one of the highest in the nation. Westport’s 72 percent is even higher.

And yet, even accounting for youngsters under 12 who are not yet eligible, that means some Westporters have not gotten jabbed. Who are they? What are their reasons? What does that mean for all of us?

Each unvaccinated neighbor has his or her own story. Some have legitimate medical reasons. A few might have religious concerns. But the rest, well, it could be a stewpot of everything from “it’s still experimental” to “I don’t want a microchip implanted in my body”; from “I’ll show them” to “if the government tells me to do this, they can tell me to do anything.”

I don’t know why someone who lives down the street, or stands next to me at CVS, might not have done what they can to protect themselves and their loved ones (and strangers in the community) from a scourge that shows no sign of leaving.

I also don’t know what’s going to happen with this Delta variant — or Epsilon, Zeta and Eta, the next ones almost certainly ready to come.

I’m not the only one who does not know. No one knows.

Uh oh.

Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at dwoog@optonline.net. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.