The Key West Mystique

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Key West Crud

Key West Crud | It’s a thing. It’s back. And it’s not Covid

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

11/20/2022

I made Ranger Ed move six feet across the room and handed him a mask. “If you’ve got the Covid, I don’t want any part of it.” As he sniffled and hacked, I walked him through a Covid-19 test. Negative. No fever. No aches. Oh, crikey, Key West Crud is back.

Even his doc said “Key West Crud.” Not the flu. Not Covid. Crud.

Ask any adult who minds the kids. We’re back to indiscriminately passing around the Crud. Classrooms are breeding grounds for sniffles, sneezes and trading viruses, i.e., the common cold. Heck, ask anyone on the island who works in small-ish, enclosed spaces with all kinds of strangers coming and going. We all know Key West Crud season is but a calendar page turn away.

Without masks, distance and hand sanitizing every 38 seconds or so, we’ve got nothing between us and the viruses we historically take for granted. We spent almost three years in MWD routines to fend off Covid. We didn’t pay much attention to the unintended consequence: In addition to Covid protection, MWD gave us a couple years of relief from the Crud, allergy attacks and the seasonal flu.

Key West Crud

We’re back to: Meh, it’s just Key West Crud and we move on with little more than a shrug.

Honestly, I’m good with that. I’m glad it’s been months since I last wrote about Covid. I like not freaking out every time I hear someone next to me cough. I do keep a mask handy for airplanes and other tight, unknown spaces. Not so much because I worry about Covid, but because I loathe dealing with the 10 days and two boxes of tissues it takes to shake the Crud. Ditto the allergen triggers like coral dust and mold.

Covid-19’s not gone. It’s “over.” We’ve collectively reached that mind-numbing point when our tolerance for drama has reached its max and we’ve agreed to accept Covid-19 as yet another “live with it” disease. New variants will pop up regularly; there will be new boosters and we’ll settle into complacency until the next time.

Key West Crud | How ARE we doing with Covid?

Likely because we are just plain old, Monroe County escaped some of the grinding worst that Covid delivered across the country and the Florida mainland. What’s old have to do with it? Well, old people, loosely defined as at least 65, offered up their arms for vaccinations in astounding numbers.

To date, 95 percent of Monroe County’s plus-65ers are fully vaccinated and 62 percent have had the booster. Miami-Dade has similar numbers so there’s a buffer between us and the mainland. But, it’s not just old folks with Covid shots.

Eighty percent of all Monroe County residents are fully vaccinated, though only 32 percent have had the booster. And again, Miami-Dade has similar numbers. (There are reasons beyond “vaccine deniers” for the 32 percent, including who is eligible when and, well, yeah, “why bother.” We’re still getting the booster though not as quickly as some would like.)

In short, we’ve taken seriously the effectiveness of the vaccines and the booster. Monroe County’s stats far exceed the rest of the state and much of the country. Indeed, our numbers hold their own with Rhode Island, the most successful state in getting shots in arms.

Our consistent weather probably helped, too. Unlike the rest of the country, there’s almost no time when we cannot live, work and play outdoors. We rarely have to hunt for scarce outdoor dining or an indoor gym. We sure didn’t need those innovative pod restaurant things. Cooped up just isn’t an expression we use much in the Keys.

Back in March 2020, before we locked down for Covid, I wrote this:

Pretty much, I suspect, we’re all going to be exposed to COVID-19. It’s moving fast, contagious and likely to make most of us feel like we’ve got a miserable case of Key West Crud. The odds are excellent that by the start of the next flu season, there will be a vaccine. Look, if you’re predisposed to panic, I can’t say anything to calm you. That’s OK; you be you; I’ll be me. Fact is, I am less concerned about COVID-19 than I am about millions of scared people making decisions out of context and out of fear. Bad things happen when we let our fear shape our futures. … But … We’re going to be OK.

Here we are almost three years later. We are worse for wear and grieving forever the loss of friends and family for whom Covid-19 was devastating. And, yet, yes, despite it all, we are OK.

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Avatar of Linda Grist Cunningham

Linda Grist Cunningham

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

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