This week, there is a sense of pandemic deja vu.
If you are anything like us at The Squamish Chief, COVID is currently making the rounds of your social circle.
Texts are coming in from folks bowing out of events, shifts at work or hikes as two lines appear on that at-home COVID test.
On the news, like an echo of 2020, an Australian cruise ship just had to dock due to 800 on board — one in five — testing positive.
Another headline notes that Ontario’s chief medical officer of health recommends indoor masks as that province’s emergency rooms battle with increased loads of sick folks.
It can all seem pretty familiar.
But the current situation is nothing like two years ago or even much like this time last year.
We are not the people or the town we were at the beginning or even the middle of this thing.
A few years ago, how many of us knew how to put a medical mask on with the correct side facing out (hands up if you had the white rather than the blue side out at first?) or take an antigen test?
Today, for most of us, a COVID test is routine and figuring out tee right way to wear a mask is easy breezy.
At home, we know how to react if we test positive: text work and organizers of all those social engagements.
We know how to isolate ourselves from friends and even those in our own home if need be.
We have safety protocols in place in our businesses or know how to reboot them.
Those who are able know how to work remotely, something that may have seemed foreign a couple of years ago.
We even know the corners to which our friends and family members will retreat if talk of the virus, masks or vaccines pops up. (We have been there, done that and hopefully won’t need to have those arguments again.)
We know now where to go for information. It is unlikely the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website was a popular bookmark pre-2020.
Each of us has thought about and determined the level of risk we are comfortable with as we move through our daily lives.
Thankfully, compared to the first waves, this Omicron variant is generally less severe than other SARS-CoV-2 variants.
And these days, we have the choice of vaccination that wasn’t available during the first year of the pandemic.
In the Howe Sound region, which includes Squamish, 93% of adults have rolled up their sleeves for at least two doses of a COVID vaccine; 57% have gotten a third (booster) dose, and 24% have gotten a fourth booster dose.
Based on evaluations by the BC Centre for Disease Control between September 2021 and February 2022, a booster dose increased protection up to more than 90% against hospitalization with Omicron and about 50-60% against Omicron infection.
All this to say, while the story may look familiar in November of 2022, we are in a much different and much better place to withstand not only COVID, but whatever comes our way this winter.