Pandemic Diary, August 26th, 2021: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Last week and this week, I am officially on holidays from my employer, the University of Manitoba (although I am still beavering away on my presentation on social VR in higher education, which I am scheduled to give on September 8th to the university’s Senate Committee on Academic Computing). No rest for this social VR blogger!

September is going to be a busy month, as classes resume! I am still largely working from home, and all of the training sessions I do this fall for various classes will be conducted via Zoom, Cisco WebEx, or Microsoft Teams. The University of Manitoba still has an on-campus face mask mandate, and recently, they announced that all faculty, staff, students and visitors to campus must be fully vaccinated against COVID (something which I was very happy to hear).

While I have been fully vaccinated for two months now, I have rarely left the safe cocoon of my apartment these past two weeks. Why? Well, for one, the Delta variant is spreading quickly in various parts of the country. I do not want to become a “breakthrough case”, even though I know that the vaccines will protect me against a serious case of COVID-19 if I should become infected. But I don’t feel like tempting fate!

My excursions from my apartment fall into three categories: visiting my mom and stepfather at their seniors life lease condo across town; dinners on outdoor restaurant patios with my best friend; and picking up my online grocery order every two to three weeks from my local Walmart (a habit I expect to keep once the pandemic is over). Other than that, I stay put!

Here in Manitoba, it’s been a dance of two steps forward, one step back. The good news is that over 75% of the province has been fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, due to projections of the spread of the Delta variant, and its potential impact on our healthcare system, Manitoba has had to reimpose restrictions:

The Manitoba government will require all provincial employees who work with vulnerable populations to be fully immunized for COVID-19 by Oct. 31, or undergo regular testing, to protect Manitoba against a fourth COVID-19 wave, Premier Brian Pallister announced today.

In addition, the province will put indoor mask requirements in place across Manitoba in the coming days, including in schools, and will expand the list of activities and services that can only be accessed if an individual is fully immunized.

“These steps are necessary to protect children in Manitoba, avoid another lockdown, and keep our health-care system safe from a fourth wave of COVID-19 and the dangerous delta variant,” said Pallister. “Despite having among the highest rates of vaccination in Canada, children in Manitoba are not yet eligible for the vaccine and we have to take every step we can to protect them from this virus, especially as they prepare to return to the classroom this fall.”

Like I said: two steps forward, one step back. God, I will be so happy when this dance is over! Stay safe and stay healthy, everyone!

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