Judging by my ongoing informal survey of friends, family, and the internet, we’ve entered the pandemic’s doldrums phase. The peak period of widespread fear has long passed, the novelty of Zoom-simulated activities has faded, George Floyd’s death and police violence have surpassed the virus as a focus and a priority, and the apparent collective unity of March and April has splintered: Quarantine seemed to annihilate geography but now our physical locations have started to matter again, determining which activities we’re able to do and how many alternatives we have to staying home. Beyond local rules, individual attitudes toward coronavirus have also fragmented: Some have moved on entirely, others are cautiously easing their way back into public, and others are still sheltering in place. Coronavirus will never be the undisputed global focus that it was this spring, yet no closure is coming anytime soon either. Cities will reopen in uneven increments but nobody will ring a bell and declare that it’s safe to go back to normal (whatever normal even means). After the adrenaline rush of the last few months, we now experience a hazy uncertainty as the simplicity of knowing exactly what to do gives way to making more ambiguous decisions for ourselves.
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