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Are You Woke? Taking Baby Steps into the “New Normal”

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Are You Woke? Taking Baby Steps into the “New Normal”

You have arrived!

You took your Covid shot and waited the required weeks for full immunity. Now it’s time to step out into the New Normal and take a look around.

But . . .

Some experts call it pandemic trauma. Joel Achenbuck in the Washington Post refers to “increased risk, residual risk, potential risk, higher risk . . .”

Coming out of your Covid Cocoon is tougher than it sounds. Sanjay Gupta, on CNN, said to ask one simple question when you emerge, “how likely are you to breathe in someone else’s air?”

So many possibilities.

So many variants.

How do you choose what, when, and with whom to take baby steps? Do you listen to the CDC, Dr. Fauci, or other experts interviewed on TV? Do you listen to your kids or social media influencers who tout conspiracy theories?

Ultimately, there’s only one person making the decision . . . you.

“I’m comfortable going out,” says one fully vaccinated New York retiree. “I’ve been inside for well over a year and that’s a long time in the Golden Years. I have to take risks . . . and at the same time, be safe. I wear a mask indoors in public places; outdoors, I don’t. I’m not going on a plane or staying at a hotel, though.”

The numbers tell a confusing story. CNN reports that almost 123 million Americans are fully vaccinated; 60% of US adults have received at least one dose. NPR estimates that 1 in 4 people don’t want a vaccine. Herd immunity hasn’t kicked in yet but President Biden is aiming for 70% of the adult U.S. population to be vaccinated by July 4.

Independence Day.

President Biden’s administration will share up to 80 million doses around the world.

Daily death counts from Covid are still reported.

It’s like trick-or-treating on Halloween. You can’t tell the witches from the warlocks.

There are hot spots, anti vaxxers, and Covid deniers. Foreigners fly to the U.S. to get the vaccine. There are states with high vaccination rates like Massachusetts and low rates like Arizona. Pandemic nightmares rage in countries like India and Brazil. Local hotspots show up daily while many experts announce we have turned the pandemic corner.

A 14 year old advises his vaccinated grandparents, “You should be careful but not too worried.”

What gives?

“This is all new to everyone,” says a New York health care worker. “People should go out but they need to be cautious, practice hand hygiene, wear masks, follow the incidents of variants in your community, and avoid big crowds.”

Don’t forget – there’s still a pandemic.

Here are a few suggestions for today if you’re vaccinated and ready to take baby steps into the New Normal. Stay updated – CDC suggestions change regularly; your community or state might have a higher (or lower) rate of variants or Covid cases. Be informed when it comes to the world as well as your neighbors.

Most of all, be vigilant.  Masks

Yes! President Biden announced new CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people – they can “resume activities without wearing masks or being physically distanced, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws.”

Easy peasy?

“I decided to ignore the CDC,” says one New York retiree. “Can you trust that the unmasked person next to you is following CDC or QAnon?”

“I’ve been wearing a mask for so long,” says a Massachusetts man. “Why change now? There are too many crazy people out there and I simply don’t trust them.”

It all depends on you, where you live, and which political agenda you support. If you’re fully vaccinated do what you feel is right . . . and stay informed.

Change is the only constant.



According to NPR, “If you’re both fully vaccinated, hug away!” Otherwise, be careful, put on your mask and wash your hands. Of course when your grandchildren open their arms . . .


Let’s face it, those roots do nothing for your hair. Trying to cut or style it yourself usually ends up looking like you used pinking shears. Many states opened salons and barbershops, but you still have to be careful. WEAR A MASK. Make sure your stylist wears a mask. The less time spent there the better – book during slow hours. Many salons don’t permit extra people and have partitions between chairs. You can also solve the problem by going to a one-stylist or limited patron shop that follows all the safety rules. 


Who doesn’t miss going to their favorite restaurant? We’ve had our fill of casseroles, cold delivered pizza, and figuring out how to make Brussels sprouts enticing. Indoor dining, though, has its risks. For the fully vaccinated, some risks are tolerable, worth having your cake and eating it too. According to public health officials, look for things that reduce possible transmission like the staff wearing masks, good air flow, tables are six feet apart, and you can eat outdoors. You can also choose to eat dinner during slow hours, like 4-5 pm instead of 6-8 pm, and not on weekends, to avoid crowds.

Stay tuned for more ideas on taking baby steps into the New Normal. Check out our videos on Covid Cocoons to see what others are doing.

Dr. Jeri Fink, author, photographer, traveler, and family therapist, challenges the creaky myths of aging. She believes that now is a creative, exciting time to grow and explore new ideas, people, and places. Visit Dr. Jeri at,,   or to enter her world of discovery, fun, and insights. Her fiction project, Broken, is a series of seven thrillers that defy tradition. She is presently working on Book Web Minis – a series of fun, fast and positive mini books (50-70 pages long) where readers partner with the experts. Check it out at

She tells us: “I challenge the art of writing by merging fact, fictional elements, interactivity, and photography into nonfiction mini books. I draw from my training in social work, experience in individual and family therapy, professional research, and passion for exploring positive psychology. My 32 published books, hundreds of articles and blogs, speaking engagements, and active online presence all reflect who I am today.”

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