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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

The Long Shadow of COVID-19


My holiday season is subdued this pandemic year.

Since March, when COVID-19 pushed its way into my life, I maintain a high anxiety level. My son’s school, indeed, all schools in Portugal, closed their doors and educated students via television and Zoom.

The novel coronavirus shadows my every decision. I want to go grocery shopping in the afternoon but, no, best to do it when the stores first open. I want to eat lunch inside with other pickers during an olive harvest but, no, best to eat outside on the porch. I want to accept an invitation to Christmas dinner at the house of friends, but, no, best not to attend a warm, cozy meal indoors with others for hours.

The virus imprisons me. I feel powerless. However, none of us has ever had control, which is an illusion we need to live our lives. COVID-19 lays bare that lie and catches us in a Kafkaesque trap of sickness and death, hunger and bankruptcy, loneliness and worry.

Everyone -- astoundingly, everyone in the world -- has lost something, and everyone has had to gain a new perspective.

Whatever our coping mechanism, globalization must play a role in it.

The virus first appeared in Wuhan, China in November 2019. One year later, it is wreaking fear and tragedy in more than 200 countries, territories and other states in the world. Governments mandate quarantines and other safety measures, and citizens obey the rules or, in nations where they claim it is their right, also protest against them.

Vaccine development is multinational. Amazingly, in such a short span of time, a few vaccines already have proved to be safe and effective. China, Russia, the United States, Canada and Europe have begun to inoculate people. Nevertheless, vaccine distribution must be global, otherwise no country’s inoculation campaign will be effective.

We are only as well as everyone else.

So, even my season’s greeting is shadowed by COVID-19 as I wish us all a healthier New Year.

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