It's time for another stay-at-home check in and I wonder if this could be my last one, or maybe second to last. Although life is not completely back to "normal" I do feel that we are leaving the season of staying at home behind. The boys are in school, Chris and I are both fully vaccinated, and generally we're feeling less worried about COVID-19 although we are still staying home for the most part. I'm feeling very optimistic that the increasing rate of vaccinations will usher us out of the pandemic. I do have a little bit of worry about the rising rate of cases in some places but am counting on vaccines to overcome those hopefully localized surges.
On Friday, April 2 I woke up at 4 a.m. and drove across the valley to the State Farm Stadium for my second vaccine dose. Again I was amazed at the scale of the operation that is vaccinating people around the clock. I am so grateful to all the people working and volunteering to make that possible. Now that vaccinations are open to everyone 16 and older in Arizona there is a high demand for vaccination site volunteers. When vaccine eligibility was limited volunteering was your golden ticket to getting a vaccine early. Without that coveted reward fewer people are raising their hands to sign up. I would like to find a day to volunteer for another shift to contribute to the effort.
After receiving my second vaccine I was prepared to feel crappy for a day. About 10 hours after getting his second vaccine, Chris started having flu-like symptoms and was under the weather for the next day. My arm was really for the first 24 hours after getting my second dose but other symptoms never materialized. I got lucky!
A big change for us this month is that both Chris and I are returning to the gym. Chris went back at the beginning of April and I plan to return to Orange Theory at the end of this week. I am so excited. My return will coincide with being two weeks out from having my second vaccine. At his first gym class Chris was the only person wearing a mask including front desk staff and the coach. He wore his mask diligently through class but reported that it was pretty hard to breath when the exercise became intense. We talked it over and while disappointed that the gym staff is not wearing masks (which I think technically they should be due to town and county mask ordinances) we are okay with Chris going to the gym twice per week.
There are more COVID safety measures in place at my Orange Theory gym compared to Chris's local gym. My Orange Theory has reduced class sizes, modified workouts to accommodate social distancing, and masks are required. I feel really good about their protocols. My plan is to go twice per week, like I was before. I'm also looking forward to returning to High Fitness cardio classes but am holding off on those a little bit longer because I don't think those classes require masks or have smaller class sizes. I hope can feel comfortable going back by the end of summer.
Recent CDC research says that it's unlikely, although not impossible, for people who are fully vaccinated to get coronavirus or to pass it to someone else. That really eased my worries about returning the gym. But then a follow up article said "wait! you still need to be pretty careful!" It feels confusing and frustrating I have to admit. I think the bottom line is that we are increasing our risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus but the increased risk is small given that we're both full vaccinated. At this time we feel the benefit of being at the gym together with our lower county case numbers (under 10 cases per 100,000 people) outweighs that risk. I'm open to dissenting opinions, however, and if you've read a recent science-backed article that recommends staying home from the gym after being fully vaccinated then I would be interested to read it.
Last summer, when we were all cooped up and we had a new baby, was hard. I'm excited for this summer to be much better. I'm counting on being able to return to the public pool for one thing. And maybe at some point in the summer it will feel okay to go back to places like trampoline parks? Something else that feels really different is that we've started to plan summer travel even as we keep in mind that the situation could change. For now we're feeling optimistic. Chris is planning a trip with his guy friends in mid-May to Vegas of all places. At first I thought that Vegas sounded like a terrible idea but they plan to do things like hike, get their own cabana at a pool, and go to restaurants where they can be distant from others. The appeal of Vegas is the cost (lots of great hotel deals to be had) and combining outdoor activities with the hotel/pool/restaurant experience. All of the guys will also all be fully vaccinated by the time they travel together.
We've also booked plane tickets to visit Austin in July plus I have two girls' weekends planned, one in June and one in July. We're also looking at summer day camps for the boys with the expectation that masks will be required. The boys still wear their masks whenever they play outside with friends even though they are the only ones. I am so, so proud of them for wearing their masks without complaint all of these months.
Although we're going back to the gym we aren't opening our circle in other ways yet like going to restaurants. Chris did say he would probably be comfortable going to a movie theater soon but we haven't made plans to do that. I'm considering the possibility of looking for a babysitter this summer who could babysit for day dates and take care of Maeve sometimes during the day. I feel pretty confident that numbers will continue to come down and that we could find a babysitter who has been vaccinated.
One last COVID-related update is that we tried to get information about enrolling our children in the Moderna pediatric vaccine study. Phoenix is one of the places where they are enrolling. I was really surprised that I felt open to even considering the trial. Early in the pandemic, as articles about how vaccines are developed and tested abounded, I remember thinking, "I would never enroll my kids in a vaccine trial." But after learning more this year and with millions of people being safely vaccinated daily I feel differently. Assuming the potential risks were mild like fever or flu-like symptoms we felt open to enrolling all three kids as a way to give them immunity to COVID-19 months earlier than a shot will be ready for widespread distribution. However, we've never heard back after giving some initial information so it looks like we'll be waiting along with everyone else.
So that's where we are with making decisions related to COVID-19 right now. It feels like we have one foot in our season of staying at home and one foot back in the world beyond our house. I'm hopeful that we keep moving towards normal.