Last week marked the first anniversary of Minnesota going into a state of lock-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Walz declared a state of emergency Friday, March 13, 2020, and businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits, including the museum I lead, started shutting down within the following week.
After a year’s worth of following pandemic protocols, including masking, distancing, not gathering with our children or other relatives (except for Hubby’s mom, who needs help to get to the grocery store), and staying out of public places unless necessary (grocery stores, mostly), I finally broke down last Monday and got a haircut. It had been over a year since I’d been to a salon and my pandemic hair was driving me up a tree. Everyone at the salon had masks and the capacity was greatly reduced. Only two people cutting hair and only three customers allowed in the store at a time.
In a move that I now considered prescient, the last time I got a haircut, I asked to have it cut reeeeally short. I am not an every-six-weeks-haircut sort of gal, typically going about three months between haircuts normally. That extra short haircut bought me lots of time before I had finally had enough of my pandemic hair, though I did cut my bangs a couple of times over the course of the year.
Here is my pandemic hair at its longest and most unruly point.
Obviously, I didn’t run around with it uncombed. Most of the time I kept my pandemic hair tied back into a ponytail. It was the only way I could tolerate it for so long.
Here is my hair after the haircut last Monday.
Such a weight was lifted! I am very pleased with how this cut turned out, which is not always the case after a salon visit. Sometimes you end up with a cut that isn’t quite right. This one is well done and feels carefree without the unruliness of the pandemic hair.
Here it is in a more slicked-back style.
Yay for haircuts after a year’s worth of no haircuts!
This was not the only pandemic-related news for me this week.
At-Home COVID Testing in Minnesota
One of the big barriers to getting the pandemic under control has been the difficulty in getting quick, readily-available tests. Erik and I were tested last fall in a drive-thru testing facility in a larger city a half-hour away from our home. It was easier to leave town for a test than to get one in town, so that’s what we did after we developed a cough. The tests came back negative in a couple of days, but we had to stay away from people completely until we got the results.
Thankfully, we haven’t had any symptoms since that time (the cough was probably due to allergies kicked up by the heating season and fall leaves), so we haven’t needed to get tested again. However, our daughter is due to have a baby very soon and we will need to be able to quarantine and get tested a couple of times before we will be able to visit.
I had heard that the State of Minnesota was offering at-home testing kits, so I signed up to get one in order to check out how the system worked and how quickly the test results would come back.
Boy, howdy, was this process fast!
The testing, which is free, is done by Vault. When you sign up for a test, you have to provide an individual email for each person in the household that wants a test. You also need to have your health insurance card handy so you can photograph both sides and upload them as part of registration. While you won’t be charged for the test, your insurance company will.
I ordered my test, Monday, March 15, 2021 (same day as haircut) and received a confirmation email from Vault that day. The test shipped March 16, with another confirmation email from Vault.
The test was delivered March 17. What was weird about the delivery was the time. I got an email at 8:30 p.m. saying the test was delivered and I was like, “Oh, no, it wasn’t,” because no delivery service works that late in our area. Ha! I was wrong. I went outside to check our deck box, where we have deliveries deposited so porch pirates don’t steal them, and there it was!
I took the test the next morning. Using the email that confirmed delivery of the test, you select the button to start your test. You are connected via Zoom to a nurse, who walks you through taking the test. The test involves spitting into a tube. It takes what seems like a lot of spit when your mouth is dry, but the nurse gives you tips for filling it, then she explains how to add the blue chemical to the spit and how to pack the test for shipping. Keep the envelope your test arrived in because you will be asked to use it as part of the repacking process.
You have to ship the test back as soon as possible after completing it. I dropped it off with the UPS drop point in town on my way to work that morning (March 18).
On March 19, I got an email from Vault at 11:27 a.m. saying they had received my sample. By 5:22 p.m., I had my result from Vault: Negative for SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19.
The process was almost as fast as using the drive-thru testing facility, only I didn’t have to leave home to take the test.
I am duly impressed and highly recommend the at-home Covid testing for Minnesotans if you don’t need one faster for some reason.
We got one other big bit of COVID news this week. Our clinic called to let us know they had extra doses of a COVID vaccine for patients and offered Erik and me shots. While I had signed up for Minnesota’s Vaccine Connector service, which helps people to find vaccines as they become available, the service also informs you upon registration that if you have an opportunity to get a vaccine before the Connector finds one for you, you should take it. With our grandchild’s impending arrival, we quickly accepted our clinic’s offer and are scheduled to receive our first shot March 26 (woohoo, this week!) and our second one April 16.
I have never been this excited to get a shot.
It’s weird how a year of living with a pandemic changes your perspective on haircuts and vaccinations.
Haircuts are small blessings that can have a huge impact on how you feel.
With vaccinations, we were very hesitant after several children in our family had bad reactions to various shots. We weighed every shot we gave to our children carefully and avoided those that caused reactions. Because we did not fully vaccinate our children, we would have been considered “anti-vaxxers” not so long ago.
Over the course of the pandemic, I’m no longer hearing the term “anti-vaxxer” thrown around as a slur. Turns out lots of people are hesitant about vaccinations for some very good reasons and those of us called “anti-vax” aren’t necessarily anti-vax at all. Many of us are just hesitant due to personal experiences with shots or our treatment by medical professionals. We’re not anti-science or anti-public health or non-thinking sheeple following a weird trend.
With COVID-19, our best chance to get the pandemic under control is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, thus reducing the risk for those who can’t get a shot for whatever reason. If I can help bring this pandemic to an end by getting vaccinated, I’m glad to do it. I don’t want to have to wait another year to see my kids or get a haircut.