Beyond the myriad bigger-picture devastations, everyone has their own pandemic pet peeves. Here’s mine: People who, even after a year spent in the information equivalent of a blizzard, expect precise responses to questions that cannot be answered yet.

To that point, nobody knows whether our first “normal” holiday will be the Fourth of July, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa or Arbor Day 2023. Nobody has any idea if full-time schooling will resume next week or in September, or whether it’s teachers, skittish administrators, helicopter/Velcro/snowplow parents or heightened viral loads that are thwarting the return. Nobody has a clue when your workplace will resume regular operations or when you can book an Escape Room birthday party or when you can stash your mask cache away with the other Halloween relics.

We all want answers; it’s compromising our collective sanity that, a year into this thing, there are so few to be had. But as with “are we there yet?,” there are only so many times you can ask the same question before it ceases to be anything more than white noise. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,977 words and will take you eight minutes to read. 

The more you know

The question/answer rant above notwithstanding, this was yet another week during which we moved our token a few spaces ahead on the knowledge board. Alas, we’re still a few rolls of the dice away from passing ‘Go’ and pocketing the bounty that comes with it.

The takeaway: Sometimes I think we should all put up good news/bad news scoreboards. Maybe this would give us hope… or maybe the dark weeks would drive us deeper down.

Source: Getty Images

The roadblocks ahead

Anybody have a bulldozer? A brush mower? A shovel would work in a pinch.

The takeaway: Clear the damn roads already. It’s time.

Source: Getty Images

The pain

It arrives in waves. “Rub some dirt on it” only gets you so far, because there’s no equivalent for psychic wounds.

The takeaway: The only consolation is that we’re in touch with our pain. We know we’re hurting. Nobody’s paging Dr. House.

THREE QUESTIONS WITH… Brandi Hight Bank, VP, policy and public health, Klick Health

How would you assess communications and messaging around the vaccine so far?

Communicating around vaccines is always a nuanced endeavor and we applaud the efforts of public health officials, media and healthcare workers to contextualize vaccine benefits and risks. We see an opportunity to provide a more consistent, clear national public education campaign as the vaccines roll out – especially as people seem to crave more certainty than science can provide at the moment. This is a key period to answer questions and empathetically address hesitancy as people wait their turn to be eligible for a vaccine.  

What are the areas in which those efforts could stand to improve?

There’s enough data building to move to scientifically sound “gain frame” messaging for COVID vaccines, rather than a “loss frame,” to highlight the benefits of what people can do once safely immunized. We also think that a national commitment to health equity ensures the rising tide of scientific progress that benefits all of society. For example, the drop in American life expectancy in 2020 was greater among Black and brown communities. Efforts to support diversity, equity and inclusion must prioritize ending disparities in health outcomes, along with continued education of all.

What are the first things you plan to do after you receive the vaccine? And after the pandemic lifts?

I was fortunate to volunteer as a participant in a COVID vaccine trial. While I am still blinded, I suspect I got the vaccine based on some mild side effects after the first dose (notably headache, body aches and tiredness for a few hours). But like everyone else, I am still following core safety protocols, like wearing masks, social distancing, working from home, etc. Post-pandemic, I cannot WAIT to see my parents, siblings and their kids, all of whom live in different states. We have a lot of big birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate and catch up on. 

(Are you smart? Do you know someone who is? If so, please reach out to with nominations for potential “Three Questions With…” respondents)

The rest

…and some songs.

Don’t Wanna Fight, Alabama Shakes

Willing to Fight, Ani DiFranco

Fighting with Fire, Sam Phillips

Fight the Good Fight, Triumph

Fight the Power, Public Enemy

Thanks for reading and listening – and while we’re at, for masking, distancing, vaccine-receiving, vaccine-administering, empathizing, smiling and all the other decent and responsible stuff you’re doing on a daily basis. It’s not lost on those around you, even if they haven’t been the best at articulating their appreciation during this decade of a year. Did I just have this conversation with somebody around me? Maybe. Anyway, come back next week for more Haymarket Media newsletter enlightenment and whimsy.