It’s Thursday. Someone in my circle has informed me their partner has tested positive for COVID. They’re quarantining. He’s got a cough. That same day I travel to Boone to pick up some students for summer break. COVID’s on the rise here, they tell me; they’re glad to be escaping without catching it.

It’s Friday, prom night at my daughter’s school. Half of the class won’t make it, because they all got COVID at another prom a week earlier.

Over the course of the weekend I note a surge in coronavirus cases among my social-media contacts. It happens a few weeks after the state stopped updating the COVID numbers every day — not that it would matter if they did, because everyone is taking home tests, which never get factored into the official equation. With this dearth of accuracy, anecdotal evidence becomes even more compelling.

Once again I feel like the coronavirus is closing in on me, like I did in the summer of 2020, and again that winter, and on three separate occasions in 2021, and again just a few months ago, when everyone was getting it from their kids, who picked it up at school.

I thought I had it once last year, but it was just a spring cold or maybe some allergies. My wife has had contact with it several times but it never latched on. Our daughter has steadfastly masked at school even after the requirements dropped and has thus far avoided the virus.

It’s Monday, and I book an appointment for a vaccine booster — my second — at the Four Seasons Mall. My first three shots, two rounds of vaccines and the first booster, came from Walgreens. I brought my daughter to the Greensboro Coliseum for her initial shots. The place was set up for tens of thousands of people to move through in those early days of the vaccine; it never once operated at full capacity.

At the mall, there’s a testing facility in the parking lot, empty in the mid-afternoon. They give the shots in what was once an anchor department store, now a tiny operation in a cavernous space, run by two-person team of nurses who remark that it has been a busy day. Besides me, there is a mother with four young children and a woman whom I immediately categorize as old but is probably the same age as me.

Outside the vaccine station, I do not see a single person at the mall wearing a mask.

It’s Tuesday. I’ve got no side-effects from the vaccine — I never do — but I’m staying home anyway to write and do some business. My wife texts me at lunch with the news: Our daughter’s prom date has COVID.

And now, again, everything stops. We know what to do. We’re just so tired of doing it.

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