Throughout most of 2020 and 2021, nearly all we talked about was the raging pandemic.  It started in February of 2020 with rumors about how much it was going to change our lives.  By mid-March of 2020, the pandemic had rolled into our nation.

It started with social distancing and escalated from there.  What started with "two weeks to flatten the curve" quickly became "the new normal".  It was not until the latter half of 2021 that the world really started to feel normal again.  Finally, by the middle of 2023, nearly all of the pandemic restrictions had gone away.

However, just when you thought we were finally finished with the pandemic, it looks like it may be returning.

The New COVID-19 Variants

We have been hearing about a few new variants in the last few weeks. The first is EG.5, or "Eris".  This variant is quite prevalent in the US.  In fact, during a week in August, it was reportedly responsible for about 20% of infections.  Yale Medicine is suggesting that more people are becoming infected with this variant because of summer travel.

While it has similar symptoms to other variants, the symptoms for Eris are almost all associated with upper respiratory system.  Runny nose, cough, etc.  As a result, it is less dangerous and more like a cold.

Reuters is reporting this one is a variant of the Omicron strain and has been designated BA.2.86.  Just in August, a few cases of the new variant had been found.  Only one of those cases was found in the United States.

Dr. Shah, of the CDC, formerly of the Maine CDC, reportedly said that they were keeping an eye on the situation.  According to Dr. Shah, and other notable doctors, it is believed that the new variant may be more capable of infecting people who have had their COVID shots and have natural immunity (due to previous infection).

However, it is not believed that this variant will make people any sicker than the other versions of the virus

Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash
Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Testing Is On The Rise

An indication that more people are being infected by new strains of the virus is the fact that several pharmacy chains, including Walgreens, are reporting an increase in the sale of tests.

Of course, it is important to note that the sale of tests does not indicate more people are sick with COVID-19.  It merely means that people are getting sick with something.  It could be the regular flu, it could be food poisoning, or it could be Coronavirus.


Concerns About The Spread

A handful of schools and other entities have brought back some of their COVID-19 restrictions due to a few cases of COVID.  Also, ABC News is reporting that some Los Angeles-area production studios are bringing back mask mandates.  Lionsgate, for example.

As a good portion of the country has already returned to school, we have started hearing about a few grade schools that have had to temporarily close due to outbreaks of the virus.

There were even rumors in August that a whistleblower at the TSA had come forward (to a controversial radio host) saying that there was a plan in the works to reintroduce masking at airports and on planes.  Supposedly, it was also said to the whistleblower that "lockdowns" would be returning to the country this December.

The AP did some research into this and found that it was completely untrue.  It was just a conspiracy theory.


What About Maine?

At the time of the writing of this article, there have been no statements from the State of Maine government on the possibility of bringing back pandemic-related restrictions.  State officials really have not said much pertaining to the pandemic in many months.

In fact, the state websites are no longer doing frequent updates on case counts, advisories, etc.  Of course, the best place for COVID-19 related information is at the website.

Based on what we all experienced during the height of the pandemic, I have a feeling that any future COVID-related restrictions will be done on a case-by-case basis.  For the economy and the sanity of the people of Maine.

We may see the occasional school temporarily close due to outbreaks and we may see some municipalities and businesses institute temporary restrictions.  I think most of us would agree that we have all learned our lessons from the blanket, statewide, restrictions.

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