I have been going into the Local’s office on Tuesday mornings every week since March 2020 when the city first imposed stay-at-home orders for residents and businesses. At the time, Local …
I have been going into the Local’s office on Tuesday mornings every week since March 2020 when the city first imposed stay-at-home orders for residents and businesses. At the time, Local staffers were “allowed” to enter the office predicated on the fact that as newspaper employees we were deemed “essential.”
Still, the Local was reasonably cautious. We kept everyone home who didn’t need to be in the office. We were lucky in that much of what we do every week is possible from home. There were still a few things best managed by a trip to the office.
My Tuesday morning trips had typically been solo operations. Then, a few months ago, I’d see one or two people. Our cleaning person, Margaret Berch. Or our new classifieds advertising representative, John O'Donnell. And then, last week, the miraculous happened. I went into the office and seven of us were there, putting the finishing touches on that week’s issue or getting ready for the next.
Suddenly, without any warning, the Local was open again. Well, to be fair, there had been talk about opening the office again, but no real chats about who would be scheduled or when. It feels as though, suddenly, as if by magic, life is almost back to normal. One of the only reminders of the pandemic in the office is a bag of rubber gloves in a desk drawer, and the spare masks stuffed in my bag.
We’re back in business.
Returning to normal, however, is clearly not an act of magic. It’s the remarkable efforts of health officials, healthcare workers and everyday citizens who have gone out and been vaccinated. As of last week, the city reported that 67.4% of city residents had received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine and 52% are fully inoculated. Montgomery County reported at the end of May that more than 70% of people 12 and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine. According to data tracked by the New York Times, almost 60% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated.
With numbers approaching 70% inoculation, what scientists argued was a good target to reach “herd immunity,” City officials ended all “Safe at Home” restrictions. People are again free to dine out, shop and gather as they had before the pandemic.
While optimism can again prevail, caution shouldn’t be abandoned. As acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said, the pandemic is not yet over.
“Lifting the requirement for vaccinated people to wear masks indoors doesn’t mean that we are totally past Covid-19,” she said. “Dozens of Philadelphians are still being diagnosed with Covid-19 every day, which means that more of us still need to get vaccinated.”
It’s good to be back in business, and if we can soon reach those 70% vaccination targets or better, we can then truly put the pandemic behind us.