root cellar


Posted 4/14/21

I had my second Pfizer COVID-19 immunization this weekend at the SUNY Albany campus vaccination site and I am writing this column in a haze of achy fatigue.

I can’t say if my weariness is …

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root cellar



I had my second Pfizer COVID-19 immunization this weekend at the SUNY Albany campus vaccination site and I am writing this column in a haze of achy fatigue.

I can’t say if my weariness is truly a side effect of the shot since it’s not much different from my usual reality, a result of my third shift work schedule. But I’ve got the added souvenir of a sore arm, the most commonplace of vaccination side effects, to remind me of my visit to the SUNY Albany site known as a POD (point of dispensing) but more simply described as a tent set up in a parking lot.

Yes, it would be wild to grow another head or connect with satellites hurtling through space if I believed in such silly conspiratorial ideas about COVID-19 vaccination side effects, but I’ll leave all that to the science fiction writers. I expect a bounty of great literature emerging from the pandemic in the next few years.

In the meantime, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise ostensibly in a race with the rollout of vaccines, we keep on with our social distancing, masking, daily temperature checks and attestations. If there ever was a more apt detail to include in a piece of fiction, it might be the universal presence of the daily COVID-19 screening and attestation required by employers, schools, churches and medical offices. As we all know, all of us, teachers and students, janitors and office workers, patients and parishioners must now answer questions regarding our health before entry to our jobs and other establishments.

John, my husband, takes his temperature every morning before leaving for work, as required by his employer. He answers a series of online health questions pertaining to COVID-19 symptoms and attests to the truthfulness of his answers. There should be no fever. No sudden loss of taste or smell. No known designated contact with a person who has tested positive and on and on.

I also must complete questions on a daily health screening app for my job and am met at the gate by a staff member with a thermometer gun who takes my temperature. In what has become a routine exchange, I am asked about my possible exposure to COVID-19 and if I have any symptoms. Then I am asked if I prefer to have my temperature taken on my forehead or wrist. I admit, feeling the gun-style thermometer next to my temple always gives me an uneasy feeling. Last comes the attestation or declaration that I am telling the truth. The first time I was asked if I was lying, I was taken aback. The staff member apologized. “I have to ask it,” he said, embarrassed, shaking his head.

Simply put, an attestation is a formal statement that a person makes and officially confirms as true. The internet is currently full of template attestation forms for use during the pandemic. You can attest that you are symptom-free. Or you can attest that you are eligible for a vaccine. You can attest that you have tested negative or are recovered from COVID-19 so that you can board a plane or visit a person in jail.

I often wonder where do all these daily records go? Does anyone read them? Are they stored away and kept as legal documents?

To be sure, the truth is so easily twisted these days. But I feel that the “attestation” is one of the most disconcerting developments to have taken root in our everyday lives due to the pandemic. And I look forward to the day when we can stop answering these daily questions.

But today, I offer my thanks. I affirm my gratefulness for the availability of the vaccine, for the people who developed it and for those who are getting it into our arms.

coivd, vaccine


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