a banner. it says thank god the pandemic is over in a pixelated font and there are skeleton hands praying.

thank god the pandemic is over is a free monthly zine about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

the zine is made on the land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation. sovereignty was never ceded and this always was, always will be Aboriginal Land.

February 2023

Hello again. It's going to be weird doing this monthly. I've started keeping thoughts in my notes app all through the month, which is a bit of a relief. I don't have to keep thinking about it if I just write it down somewhere, then it can drop out of my brain til it's zine time. I feel lighter, despite thinking about covid more.

The start of Jan saw the new super-contagious variant come out of China, and the rest of the world putting in bans and restrictions on travellers coming from China, despite literally not giving any fucks about any other kinds of protections.

The rest of Jan saw just … so many people dying. I wrote a letter to my MP at the end of the first week of January saying we need better protections against covid. Over 400 people in Australia had died that week. Do we wanna know the stats for January? Not really. But 2556 people have died this year just in Australia from covid (stats from ABS website, accessed 31 Jan 23).

As Brandon Crabb says, that's not the whole story.

We are dying more. (The figure for deaths from covid infection itself last year is around 15000 deaths -- that's a LOT more deaths) You probably know this if you've picked up this zine, but more people are having heart attacks after getting covid, more people are dying of strokes, and then of course so many people are becoming permanently disabled, or more disabled than they were, and we don't really have the numbers for that.

When I got to the supermarket mostly the other people I see wearing masks are the elderly. What must it feel like to have lived for so long and to just be cast aside, your death seen as an acceptable sacrifice so the rest of us don't have to think about it? (I know ageism is a huge issue that has been around since before covid)

I wonder how long it will take until we all know dozens of people who have died from covid. I think about what it'll take for the world to take this disease seriously, and I fear it is just more mass death.

I wonder if in the future people will be like “oh, but they didn't know covid was so deadly back then” just like we say about cigarette smoking. But our leaders know that covid is deadly, they just don't care.

Did you see the Davos conference? The big one where all the financial leaders meet and talk about business or whatever? The rich, the business owners. And did you see the covid protections in place?

Everyone has a PCR before attending. If anyone tested positive for covid, their access was revoked immediately. There were HEPA filters. There was airflow (someone deduced this from a shot of everyone not masked, but wearing coats inside to keep warm). In a lot of the pictures, the crowd was wearing masks but the speakers weren't, because of the other protections in place.

They know covid is deadly otherwise they would not go to such lengths to protect themselves from it. But workers, us, are allowed to die. As long as we serve the economy.

I wrote a post-pandemic novel last year called Prism and the thing that stopped the virus in that world was a death variant. It killed you with your initial infection, and so people acted. The future I wrote in that was recovering from mass death, and the agony of living in a mostly-emptied-of-humans world, but in a kinder place. I don't want billions more people to die for this to happen. But if we continue to not take any protections, if we continue to do nothing, this is the only outcome I can see, and I hate that it is.

In an effort to not all be doom-and-gloom, I thought I would share some nice things. I had two close friends have birthdays in Jan. One was a BBQ in a backyard and there were only 6 or 7 of us, it was easy to distance when necessary. We just sat outside and chatted and ate. It did rain pretty hectically and unexpectedly, but we took shelter in the shed nearby for a bit, I wore a mask, and then we just carried on after the rain passed.

Another friend had their birthday in a park under a shelter. And again, it was easy to distance or if I couldn't, I just wore a mask.

Sitting around chatting and eating with my friends is all I want to do. I want to be able do it safely. We are pack animals and we need each other.

I feel so frustrated when I talk about this with others, asking for measures to be safe and then they respond with "so you never want me to see my family again???" It is a response I can understand to a point, because I think so many people see any covid measures being discussed and automatically think lockdown, which was so traumatic. I'm not calling for lockdown. I don't want to be in lockdown ever again.

I wear my mask everywhere, but we need cleaner air too. Masks aren't the only measures we can rely on, we need vaccines and probably heaps of other stuff I don't know about. The way communications of health during the pandemic has been pretty bad though, and trust has been eroded in so many places it'll be hard to get back.

In the early days of the pandemic, speaking from one of its epicentres, a childhood friend in Italy expressed scepticism at the popular, wishful notion that our societies would find inspiration from the current crisis and become more caring. On the contrary, he wrote on his Facebook page, 'we'll come out of this morally exhausted' as well as physically and economically weakened.
This is from an article about Jacinda Adern's resignation, called 'The end of the politics of care' by Giovanni Tiso. Everyone's exhausted.

I keep looking for things to explain what's happening, like that article from Jan's issue. It helps me feel like other people care about this outside of my little bubble.

I feel really lucky to work where I do, in a shop that has great airflow, that has a HEPA filter, and that the other staff wear masks in too. Customer masking rates at the mo are about 10%, I might try and keep track of it here to see if there are any changes. Last year mask rates went up in the winter wave, but they didn't go up in the wave before/during Christmas. I think maybe because winter is associated with sickness anyway, it must've felt more real to people, where summer is the time of fun and relaxation.

It's nice being able to meet people outside easier these days, I am already dreading winter and sitting outside in the cold. There is a cafe near my work that has a courtyard which I sit in and do work before my shift. It's great, and if it's raining there's a little undercover bit too. It's much nicer to sit at in January than in the shivering middle months of the year.

I've started making a list of outside spaces in so-called Melbourne so I feel a bit less lost. There are so little public places to sit that are undercover in this city, which I know is deliberate and cruel anti-homeless architecture.

I've only got places near where I live/work on it so far, so when there are more I'll make it publicly available so I don't accidentally doxx myself. I think when it's more comprehensive it'll be really handy to use, if someone wants to meet up somewhere I'll already have an idea of places we can sit. I think I'll try and put parks and stuff in it too, and potential venues for events that are kind of covid-safe-ish. That's a nice project to be doing, alongside this zine.


THANK GOD THE PANDEMIC IS OVER is a free monthly zine. You can subscribe to the physical copy on patreon or leave a tip.

Send thoughts, contributions, clippings etc to Alison Evans at thank.god.zine@gmail.com or PO Box 8012, Reservoir, VIC 3073.

Need masks but can't afford them? Send me an email or a letter.


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