Packed bars in San Francisco. Popular hot yoga classes in Boston. Signs are mounting that many Americans in highly vaccinated places are grasping for a near-normal life, even as the most contagious COVID-19 surge yet passes over.
Ellen Murphy, a 73-year-old in New York’s Brooklyn Heights who scrupulously stayed home during previous surges, will fly to her niece’s Florida baby shower next month.
“Maybe this is some level of magical thinking, but I’ve done everything that I’ve been told to do,” she said. “I got my shots, I got my booster, I wear my mask, I don’t go into crowded places with people I don’t know. It’s kind of like, what else can I do?”
Data from businesses and social media and interviews across the nation show a population accommodating COVID-19. Several factors have caused people to rethink: Omicron spreads so readily that catching it can seem all but inevitable for everyone but hermits. Inoculations and previous infections lower risk of severe disease. And it has been a very long two years of putting off get-togethers and trips.