I work in Melbourne (for the most part), as an essential worker- in the healthcare/ medical science field. Given I’ve currently returned to my regional Victorian hometown, I drive my car to and from on the days that I work. It’s a bit of a drive, sure, but it’s relatively smooth sailing until you get into the city itself.
But ever since this current wave of delta cases began to surge in Victoria, I’ve been absolutely terrified of one particular thing.
What if I bring COVID back to my regional Victorian town?
It should go without saying, but obviously I try to be very, very careful when I’m in Melbourne. I’ve avoided takeaway, and try to use the work lunch room at somewhat off peak hours to avoid congestion. I’d also like to clarify that while I’m in healthcare, it’s not any sort of clinical setting that involves dealing with patients.
I essentially just drive straight to the car park, walk across to work, then head back to the car park when I’m done. Sometimes I need to go to the GP clinic nearby to get my pollen shots, but if that’s the case, it’s a short stroll to the GPs and back once a month. That’s it.
But at this stage, it’s just a game of chance as to when (not if) I catch COVID. We’re not aiming for zero cases anymore, because it’s just not feasible in the long run.
I’m fully vaccinated now – have been since late June #AZ – but I can certainly still catch and transmit virus.
But it’s never been about just protecting myself. I have no idea how I might be affected (given my asthma), but in all honesty I couldn’t give a shit about myself.
I would be mortified if I caught virus, passed it onto someone else, and then that person got sick (or worse). I would never, ever forgive myself. It would weigh on me for the rest of my life- because I’m just that sort of a person.
I recently had an incident involving a local healthcare worker having a go at me for going to Melbourne. Sure, they shut up and mumbled an apology when I snapped that I’m an essential worker (in the infectious diseases field, no less) who is allowed to go to Melbourne for work- but it’s just the reality of regional Victoria right now. People are scared of Melbourne, and are quick to abuse those who are from there or who have been there (even if they had a valid reason).
I see/hear comments all the time to name and shame those who accidentally create exposure sites in regional Victoria.
Yes, there are some who blatantly flout rules and restrictions, but there are also a bunch of people who were doing everything by the book, who had no idea they were infectious… who I very much think would be horrified when they find out that they put people at risk.
And when I see/hear those truly toxic comments from people, I get really scared.
I don’t want to catch COVID, let alone pass it onto someone else. But most of all, I don’t want to bring it back with me to regional Vic. I’m so, so scared of the angry, abusive trolls, and what they might do to me and my loved ones if that happened. I don’t want my name published, have people make judgemental remarks, or invent falsehoods about what may or may not have happened.
It weighs heavily on my mind, all the time.
So I’ve given myself some temporary reprieve by going on annual leave. No need to commute into the city for a bit.
I certainly understand that everyone is highly emotional right now. Everyone is scared, bitter, frustrated, angry, anxious, exhausted, resentful…
You’re allowed to be emotional- it’s an extremely emotional situation. 😅
But that doesn’t mean you have to be abusive, or hateful, or quick to judge.
Because I’m 100% certain I’m not the only commuter who is terrified of bringing COVID back to regional Vic.
If you’re one of those people, I extend all my sympathies. It sucks right now, it really does.
And this shit ain’t going away.
The only thing we can really do is to get vaccinated, so that we and our loved ones don’t end up in hospital. If you’re unsure about getting vaccinated, talk to your GP. It’s just- it’s quite clear that unvaccinated people are much more likely to end up in hospital than vaccinated people. It’s also quite clear that unvaccinated people are more likely to die from COVID than vaccinated people. You just don’t know how your body is going to react to something so… new. So why not protect yourself from it as best as possible?
Things aren’t going to return to a pre-COVID normal ever again. But we can definitely do things to reduce the workload of our poor healthcare workers, who have been working their butts off for 18+ months.
Anyway- that’s just a whole other post worth of stuff.
The main thing here is that I’m scared of when COVID hits regional Victoria. I’m scared for the person who brings it to the regions, and the hate that they’ll cop.
And as selfish as it might sound, I really don’t want it to be me. Just for my own sanity’s sake.
A Ph. D graduate in Microbiology, residing in Victoria, Australia. Currently working in multiple locations but still in the STEM field. 👀 🦠 🧫 🧬