Is the pandemic over? Teresa Boardman explores her feelings about masks, the economy, in-person meetings and the lasting heartache around COVID-19.

There is a lot of conflicting information about the pandemic. The number of COVID-19 infections is on the rise, but the number of hospitalizations and deaths are still declining. The mask mandates are gone, and events are being held in person again instead of online. I have a couple of meetings on my calendar that are in-person only with no other options.

Last summer, we thought the pandemic was over, and we stopped wearing masks. Later in the year, COVID-19 cases skyrocketed. Local hospitals were full to overflowing with all of those sick people. Maybe the pandemic isn’t over. I am not convinced it will end just because we act like it is over. The danger doesn’t just go away. If it were that simple, why didn’t we end it sooner?

I am still having nightmares about being in crowded rooms where no one is wearing a mask. My dreams are always the same. I am in a crowded room and suddenly realize I am not wearing a mask, and neither is anyone else. I feel panic and anxiety and then I wake up.

Conflicts, contradictions and gardens

Some news reports state that the virus causes mild symptoms and is like the annual flu. Other sources dispute the claim. Are they mild if I am vaccinated? Vaccinated people get COVID and die but the death rate is much higher among the unvaccinated.

Our economic system depends upon all of us spending money. The more money we spend the better it is for the economy, particularly the wealthy. We need to work and earn money so we can spend it and pay taxes, too.

If we stop spending money, there will be a recession and that is never good. Usually in the spring I am totally focused on real estate. Here in the frozen Northland, people prefer to buy houses during the warmer months. Right now is the peak of the home sales season, yet I feel distracted and a little worried at times.

Close to a million people in the US have died of COVID-19. That is only the people who have been counted. What about the people who died but were never tested? Some of my friends have retired early because of the pandemic. Most are women who had planned on working for another decade.

A friend who is a lawyer is keeping her license active, but she isn’t working. The pandemic changed her mind about how she wants to live. She wants to spend more time in her garden and less time looking at screens. She has never been happier, and she is working — she just isn’t working for someone else and getting paid. She is doing all of the things that she gave up so that she could be a lawyer.

Staying in my comfort zone

Going forward, at least for now, I have decided that I don’t want to catch any dangerous viruses and I don’t want to spread them either. When I work with people, I let them know that I wear a mask when indoors and the most common response I get is one of relief. I am not the only one who isn’t convinced that the pandemic is over.

Getting a Coronavirus disease could be very expensive. I don’t think I can afford it and I know that spending a month in the hospital wouldn’t be good for my business or for my family. I disclose my vaccination status to people I will be spending time with. I simply say that I am vaccinated and boosted and that I do everything that I can to keep SARS-CoV-2 out of my house.

When I am invited to attend an in-person meeting, I ask about the size of the venue and what the seating will be like. I mention that I will wear a mask. If I don’t like the answers to the questions I won’t go to the meeting. I am not the only one who feels this way. Some of us will feel excluded when organizations have in-person meetings without offering other options for attendance.

With all the conflicting information out there, I am going to proceed cautiously. I totally understand if others do not share my concerns. At this point, there is little guidance and I reserve the right to make my own rules. I don’t want to be questioned or judged. I don’t want people to tell me all about how they had Covid-19 and they are just fine. I don’t want opinions on what is safe and what isn’t from anyone who isn’t an expert. I want some space.

Eventually, the pandemic will end, or something will change, and I’ll know that it is safe to be in indoor spaces without a mask where people are breathing. Until that happens, I’ll continue to make my own decisions about what is safe and what isn’t and what precautions I need to take.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the founder of

Teresa Boardman
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