COVID Paranoia in Full Effect

Today I was having one of those “I feel terrible, is it allergies or COVID” mornings, so I took a test. Good news! It’s not COVID! The bad news is that my allergies are completely out of control right now. But apparently I’m not alone in this; ragweed allergies are getting a whole bunch of people. I blame climate change for this, and who knows, that might actually be correct.

It’s fairly imperative for me not to contract COVID any time in the next couple of months, since I have a book tour starting on the 18th, followed by international travel, followed by a book event or festival basically every weekend through mid-November. Unfortunately we’re having a spike of COVID cases in the US, which makes this more of a challenge. I’m hoping that I can get the new booster before I travel, although if I can’t, I might try to get it while I’m on tour. I’ll also very likely be wearing masks at airports and on planes for the duration of the tour, and possibly during the book signing portion of my events. We’ll see on the day.

In light of the COVID spike we’re currently having, combined with spotty vaccination and boosting among the general populace, if you are coming to one of my events, please consider wearing a mask. Additionally, check the event information, since I know at least one of the organizations holding my event is requiring masks. Yes, they’re annoying. But so is feeling like crap and maybe horking up a lung. So consider a mask instead, and if you go that route, thanks.

— JS

48 Comments on “COVID Paranoia in Full Effect”

  1. Not that I really expect this with the Whatever crowd, but any nonsense about the efficacy of masks and vaccines in the comments will be Malleted out of existence.

    Remember, kids: A virus doesn’t care about your politics, it’ll happily infect you if you let it! So don’t let it!

  2. I’m about to travel back to the States with my family from the U.K. and we’re wearing N95s when we’re on the plane. We’re chancing nothing.

  3. Ugh allergies! I’m allergic to ragweed too. Be careful chamomile is a relative of ragweed so don’t be drinking a nice hot cuppa tea thinking it’ll help with your sinuses. It won’t. Keep healthy and safe!

  4. I’m recovering from my first COVID bout. I’m a teacher and I’m almost certain I caught it at a big training event the day before school started. I’ve gotten lax with my safety protocols over the summer, but I’m going to back to masking and distancing as much as possible.

  5. Something is going around, besides COVID.

    I have the nasty, horking cough and sore throat that my wife had last week (after airline travel, no less), but COVID test negative.

    Which indicates masking might be a good idea in general, regardless of COVID pikes or non-spikes. I didn’t get a cold or flu once during the pandemic.

    There ARE other bugs out there besides COVID (though mostly they only make you feel like crap, and don’t often outright kill you or cause long term effects).

  6. Yes, our governor and supposed state suck up of medicine gave press conferences about it.

    Not surprising is that it was to feed on the fear of a coming lockdown, mask mandate, and so on. Fear mongering about the new vaccine was from our medical puck.

    Glad you do not have COVID, but it is not a new thing or as virulent as it has been, so the prognosis will be okay for those who do not wear their stupidity like a mask.

  7. Just had Covid last week – blech. I hate being sick, period – covid or not.

    I’m wearing a mask from here on out in any inside spaces. I hate being sick more than I hate wearing a mask – by miles. (well, I actually don’t hate wearing a mask tbh)

    Also – I found the neti pot to be very helpful with stuff happening up there in my sinuses

  8. My wife and I are getting the new Covid vaccine the minute it comes out, as well as our annual flu shot.

    Why something like Covid was turned into a political pie fight, I’ll never know.

  9. We’re in our early 70s.

    We’ve never stopped wearing masks.

    (We’re definitely looking forward to the new vaccine.)

  10. “It’s not paranoia if the government has abandoned the disenfranchised and changed reporting procedures & is basically running on a thinly veiled eugenics agenda”.

    I think that’s how the saying goes.

  11. My HS senior went on school overnight retreat Thursday (in Seattle), and they tested everyone before sending them off. Surprise surprise about a dozen kids out of 90 were positive and didn’t go. Definitely going around again, although an increase from a very small number is still a fairly small number.

    But like you, I’m just too busy to get this right now and I know my last fall booster has waned. Going to stick to outside stuff and keep my eye on the next booster.

  12. We just got back from a Disney vacation two weeks ago. My wife and kid both got Covid while we were on vacation. This spike is no joke. My wife had avoided Covid until now.

    I’ll likely be wearing a mask when I see you in Chapel Hill, out of consideration for you and your schedule if nothing else.

  13. My wife an I got Covid coming back from Europe last year (and it was awful). I always wear masks in airports these days, sometimes I’m only person I can see doing that which amazes me.

  14. Same here. Tuesday I was had symptoms very similar to my last covid bout. Two negative home tests, but I’m seeing medically vulnerable friends and family this weekend, so in a fit of paranoia I got a PCR test too. All negative. Better paranoid than sorry???

  15. I’ve never stopped wearing a mask in public – and my resolve to continue was further strengthened by the fact that my best friend of 33 years caught COVID in February, was sedated and on a breathing device for a week, and passed away without my being able to say goodbye.

    Labor Day, I was at the grocery store, minding my own business, when a stranger came up to me and wondered if she could ask a question. When I said she could, she immediately said, “Don’t get mad” and I was like, “Sh*t, this is about my mask.”

    As I am “Minnesota Nice,” I stood there for 10 minutes, listening to her nonsense about how wearing a mask all the time increases your chance of getting throat cancer, how COVID was released on purpose to force everyone into even stronger lockdowns (MA FREEDUMS!!), how everyone should just let their immune system do its job, how everyone who wears a mask does so out of fear, etc., etc.

    She said she’d felt “called” to talk to me about it. When I told the story to my husband, he said, “You should’ve told her, ‘Lady, the next time you get called, don’t answer.'”

  16. I’ve never stopped masking. The NASFiC in Winnipeg, Pemmi-Con, required masks, and in general I’ve been masking when out in public. I’ve not been sick with anything at all since pre-2019. As I’m planning to go to Worldcon this year in October, the new COVID vaccine can’t be make available soon enough.

  17. I haven’t stopped masking in indoor public spaces for the past 3 1/2 years. I slacked off on outdoor areas this summer but I know I need to get militant about those as well.

    I’ve had every Covid vaccine and booster I could get as fast as I could sign up. I still caught the virus (the Omicron variant) at WorldCon in DC in 2021. I’ll get the newest booster the minute it’s available, and I’ll keep masking. Also working on weight loss, since us tubby types are at higher risk for severe illness.

    Be safe, all.

  18. Drove my son to the airport this morning, asked if he had a mask to use on his flight.

    He didn’t (too many of his online friends are Covid-skeptics), so I pulled out one of the spares I’ve started carrying and asked him to use it. Hopefully he respects his Dad enough to do that for me.

    Now that I’m in my 70s, waking up feeling “crappy” is pretty much SOP. Usually some ibuprofen with breakfast helps. It’s when I feel EXTRA-crappy that I worry about having caught something.

  19. “Why something like Covid was turned into a political pie fight, I’ll never know.”
    I think Fierce Passions hit it on the nose. Add to that certain folks’ deep resentment of necessary sacrifices to protect the targets of the attack (attack specifically meaning allowing the pandemic to rage unchecked while encouraging supporters to kill themselves and others because “freedom:”) and you’ve got berries, cream and crust all over the place.

    On another note, I teach at the post-secondary level and am concerned about faculty meetings and other required professional development. My college is moving full force back into in-person events. I have a loved one on oxygen and can’t afford to get sick (almost none of my colleagues wear masks) so I expect to miss out on most of them. This is pretty much the case at most institutions, but I’m fortunate to have been given remote courses through next year.

    I also have a ton of medical appointments coming up and will be masked up for each and every one. Luckily enough, these are great offices who take a hard line on covidiotic behavior and are professional about maintaining the health and safety of their patients.

    Ultimately, we’re headed for dangerous times, Covid wise, but being smart will protect the smart ones.

  20. Got any air purifiers running? Might help with some issues.

    It seems like these should be standard equipment these days.

  21. On Colin Meloy’s Substack he said both his kids came home with Covid a week after school started. When he asked the school what the protocol was for returning they said to come back after they’ve been without a fever for 24 hours. And this is Portland! No wonder this isn’t going away.

  22. Definitely something non-COVID going around. I’ve been dealing with an upper respiratory infection for a week and a half. No voice since last Saturday; longest I’ve ever lost my voice for.

  23. Yeah, ragweed/outdoor mold allergies were kicking my ass earlier this week too. An itchy/watery eye was the worst part, at times I had the light over my desk off and the brightness turned down on my computer as far as I could get away with it and see.

  24. You probably know, but the first negative test isn’t dispositive. I’ve had multiple people I know take the test as soon as they started to feel something and have it come out negative. Only to test again later and have it be positive. Good luck!

  25. Can I also recommend air filters? After realizing I was living in my bedroom where I have two set up, I got one for my work office (blue air from amazon) and it is insane how in my office I’m fine and can breathe no problem but the longer I’m out of my office (at a meeting etc) the more drippy and itchy I get. Zyrtec has moved to my second best friend because my air filters are doing such a great job against the ragweed. Seriously amazing.

  26. I am stuck.

    I plan to keep on masking in my public travels. I continue to insist upon either remote-work or otherwise COVID-safe(r) workplaces where everyone else on on-site who can medically do so is also masked-up. Which doesn’t make job-searching easy for me these days.

    I have to deal with people who are both vulnerable and fatalistic regularly.

    I have caregiving responsibilities that I’ve taken on because…well, it’s down mostly to me because being unemployed makes me available for it.

    I have experienced one asymptomatic (?) infection thus far.

    I do not want a second infection of any level of severity. Ever.

    I live in Ontario…which is being governed in such ways right now as to undermine my goals.

  27. Wash your hands, ya filthy animals!!! Seriously, I’m obsessive compulsive even in my own home. Rub my eyes, wash my hands, go potty, wash my hands, touch something, wash my hands, see a bird, wash my hands.

  28. We had a 220v UV light installed in our air handler. It has kept my lady and I in good shape since the Pandemic’s height so I would suggest it.

    Our HVAC guys installed it to keep the fan clean too.

  29. I really wanted to be able to wear a mask at the book tour event near me, but it sold out FAST and I missed out. Wife just got over COVID, and I don’t really want to get it again myself, so masks for me, even if its not for a book tour!

  30. Dear Jill,

    Can you introduce your grocery store “friend” to Vic? Seems like a match made in heaven… bless BOTH their hearts!

    pax / cupid Ctein

  31. I am also dealing with horrible allergies. Though we don’t have ragweed around here. Last time I had an allergy test, which was years ago, I was unsurprised that my strongest response was to russian thistle aka tumbleweed. I think it’s possible that the hurricane that came through California as a tropical storm supercharged the tumbleweeds at the worst time, when they were about to flower and die. Eyes itchy nearly all the time, nasal discharge, etc, right through 2 allergy medicines.

  32. My social circle trends very COVID-conscious, but people had relaxed and now in just the last week it seems like TONS of people are getting it for the first time. :(

    Wore a mask to an indoor wedding two weeks ago and my date and I were just about the only people masked there. (Obviously we took it off to eat, but we had N95s on the rest of the time, with some outdoor breaks.) Felt a little ridiculous, but now watching case rates blow up (including other friends catching it from weddings!) it seems like it was a good idea!

    Wish the stupid booster had come out already. We might have avoided this spike if we’d had it in time for the start of the school year (at least, in places where people still care about public health) >.<


  33. It’s an unpleasant way to wake up, but Vic NoMasks comments, unless I’ve missed some vital sarcasm somewhere, may merit your fetching out a mallet. And if needed, I just got a nice new framing hammer that might serve the same end, if you’d like to try it out.
    Though to be absolutely and annoying fair, there are no magic bullets, nor any blanket curatives, for colds, allergies, much less COVID etc that I’ve come across yet. Everything suggested above, whether technological, practical solutions, or societal practices, are only means of slowing the spread, and/or of mitigating, not completely eliminating the impacts to ourselves and our communities. As an interested onlooker, from outside the US, and as a partial aside ,throughout the last few years, I’ve always found it curious and bewildering, that the fact is (that I at least see as self-evident) that liberty and the pursuit of happiness follow and indeed cannot exist in the absence of life has not been better communicated.
    We now return you to your previously scheduled thread, my apologies for the diatribe, please feel free to remove me too, as an accessory after the fact to mallet worthy behavior. Feel better everyone.

  34. COVID is tearing it up here in southeastern rural Minnesota. I know of a half-dozen people who are seriously sick (some vaccinated, some not) and since we’re an older population group it is likely to be a long term problem for them. I’m back wearing a mask indoors in public.

  35. A bit off topics here, bought I just saw that on October 22, that you will talk about “Starter Villian” at the Wisconsin Book Fair. Always a treat to hear about your latest work…

  36. A bit off topics here, but I just saw that on October 22, that you will talk about “Starter Villian” at the Wisconsin Book Fair. Always a treat to hear about your latest work…

  37. I can pretty much guarantee that at your event at the American Bookbinders Museum masks will be required, I just got over COVID (after 3.5 years as a COVID virgin) and I am totally willing to do my part NOT to get it again.

  38. Our doctor who supports masking told us when traveling wear a mask at the airport which we did. He also said it is less necessary on the plane, since the filtration systems are a lot better than they used to be. Air filtration seems to be a huge factor in limiting the spread of the virus.

    Also note the recent spike in cases is real, but is well below the case level experienced last year. Even so, I plan to get the new vaccine and my flu and RSV shots soon.

    What is sad and frustrating about the whole masking issue is masking is really designed to lessen the spread of the virus to others. Masking really works, but is only really effective when a large majority of the people actual do it.

    Vaccination is probably your best defense. I did catch COVID last January and I was fully vaccinated. Oddly, my spouse tested negative and never technically had the disease. I suspect she had some virus loading, but it was low enough to not trigger the test and her immune system likely was stronger than mine. My symptom were a bad head cold. I did not need to take Paxlovid and I thank the vaccines for making the symptoms less severe. although an annoying cough went on for many weeks.

  39. Well-fitted N95s are fabulous; we can’t smell (most) air fresheners with our masks on, so virus droplets would, I expect, have a hard time getting through as well. (bonus: helps with pollen and smoke and a lot of perfume allergies)(not-bonus: unpleasant to wear when it’s hot; oh, the chin sweat; but being sick is vastly more unpleasant than chin sweat, so I’ll take it.)

    We also haven’t had a flu or cold since the start of the pandemic. Socially-awkward when people get annoyed that you “think the pandemic is still going on”: yes. Prevents eating indoors with people, yes, which I do miss a lot. But: not getting sick is a pretty good risk/reward payoff.

  40. Yep, allergies/wildfire smoke particles are rather bothersome this season. Just waiting until I can get the new covid vaccine plus flu shot. Spouse will get RSV vaccine soon. I’m currently only masking at DMV, around nonagenarians at my small church, and in doctor’s offices, but will probably mask more often until vaccinated again. Have a friend with “mild” covid currently that sounds miserable. Already read a digital review copy of Starter Villain and Scalzi fans are in for a real treat!

  41. Hi John,
    On a recent trip to Amsterdam and England (for Eastercon), I used a nose spray called Covixyl, which is supposed to keep the Covid virus from latching onto the cells in your nasal passages. I used it in combination with good KN-95 masks, because I’m not an idiot. Since a number of the people that I hung out with, including my roomate/traveling companion came down with Covid and I did not, I count that as a recommendation. Also, there’s research to back up this claim:
    Your mileage may vary, but I believe in doing everything I can to avoid this virus. Stay well, John!

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