I recently received word that a conference at which I am slated to speak has gone virtual. Although I am bummed about not seeing ODs in person again, I certainly understand the decision. I am thrilled to be lecturing more these days, but I now wonder if we will ever get back to the in-person conferences of yesteryear.
I strongly believe the COVID-19 pandemic will be over some day, although I am aware that my belief goes against the conclusion reached by some very smart people. It seemed a lot easier to see the other side of this whole series of events before the rise and spread of the Delta variant. However, I think there will come a day when we look back and learn from the global pandemic we called COVID-19. We did have a taste of “maybe we are close to returning back to normal” in June. The American Optometric Association Optometry’s Meeting was held successfully in person and virtually in Denver before the rise of Delta. I was there. I felt safe. It was great.
Delta forces changes
Now, as I pen this month’s editorial, it is time to hunker down more. Cases in Georgia are up to levels they reached before a vaccine was available. Where I live, thousands of students are home from school in quarantine. The Delta variant seems to be more transmittable and tends to affect young people more so than previous strands.
I have heard that more younger people are getting the vaccine, which I see as a good thing. It seems clear that more people getting vaccinated is how we are going to get out of this. Herd immunity from a lot of people catching COVID-19 means we will know people who had unfortunate outcomes as a result of their infections. Snuffing out COVID-19 with vaccines is more in line with saving as many lives as can be saved.
Back to conferences. It is harder for me to visualize the breakfast meetings, lectures, happy hours, and laughs in between classes as I write this. I hope the Delta variant will “go on and shoo,” as a feller from Georgia would say. As for the conference at which I am lecturing, I am sad I won’t get to meet the attendees in person, but I get it. I totally get it.
I do think, however, there are ways to hold in-person conferences to safely and effectively mitigate reasonable COVID-19 risks. But I’ll leave that to the professionals. After all, I am not a viral epidemiologist.