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These Dreadful Days

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If it feels like the vibe shifted to existential despair, you’re not alone. But it won’t always be this way.

“We probably didn’t get COVID in there,” I said to my two doctor friends, grimacing as we put on our masks to board the elevator after a party for parents of kids attending my daughter’s school, where we’d been maskless. Most people I know are vaccinated, and many of them had Omicron in December when seemingly everyone in New York City got Omicron. But here’s the thing: That wasn’t the first time someone’s made a dark joke about the worry over getting COVID; it’s become the go-to joke at every gathering. Low-level fear seems to have permeated everything these days, like the music you hear in elevators or in airport lounges. It’s the hum of dread, the lullaby of anxiety.

Dread doesn’t feel like anything else. It has a clarity to it, a briskness. There is no uncertainty in dread. It’s been 762 days since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic and finally the vibe has shifted from the abject panic and disbelief of March 2020 to the ubiquitous dread of April 2022.

Read: Late-stage pandemic is messing with your brain

Late-pandemic dread is nothing new. In the 14th century, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote in The Decameron about the feelings of Florentines during the bubonic plague: “These things and many others like them, or even worse, caused all sorts of fears and fantasies in those who remained alive, almost all of whom took one utterly cruel precaution, namely, to avoid the sick and their belongings, fleeing far away from them, for in doing so they all thought they could preserve their own health.” A sense of........

© The Atlantic

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