It’s been six very long months since COVID-19 brought everything to a screeching halt. We’ve learned to cut hair, make bread, get creative with dinners when grocery orders didn’t arrive with everything, and entertain and homeschool children without hitting the sauce (too much, anyway).
And at first, July hit, and it looked like we might be stuck doing this for a long, long time. It felt like the movie Groundhog Day, only instead of learning not to be a jerk to get out of the never-ending cycle, we all had to rely on other people’s behavior to get the job done.
In other words, it seemed like we were going to be here a while.
But as people began taking masks – and distance – a little more seriously, the numbers of new cases and the hospitalizations went down. That magical downward trend that county health officials kept talking about? It looked to be in sight.
By Sept. 2, when Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and county Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang announced we’d move from the red “stay home/stay safe” risk level on the county’s color-coded risk system to the orange “extreme caution” level, there was a small sigh of relief. After all, it’s still a long way off from reaching the green “new normal” level, but it’s still a lot closer to normal than we were in July when cases were well over 1,000 a day.
What does it mean? It means a bit more freedom if you’re an otherwise healthy individual. It’s OK to get a haircut (as long as the salon takes precautions), dine-in at restaurants (provided there’s plenty of space between tables and masks are worn), or visit museums or libraries with 25% or less occupancy.
But moving from red to orange also has a great psychological meaning. It means that, by and large, Dallas County residents saw the collective good in wearing masks to protect each other from COVID-19. It means that many heeded expert advice to avoid unnecessary public outings, and if they had to do so, to take precautions.
It means that, if we can keep it together just a little longer, we might just be celebrating a green Christmas, which is even better than a white Christmas because there’s nothing to shovel, you won’t get stuck on the High Five’s ice luge, and you could possibly even hug people.