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Because the Pandemic Drags On, Americans Struggle for Recent Balance

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They were all relieved when the kid tested negative on time. “But in spite of everything this, we go to the airport to drop them off, and nobody, nobody, is wearing a mask,” Dr. Caplan said. “Here we’re killing ourselves to make it so my kid can go to camp, and yet everyone seems to be, ‘That is over, right?’”

In Illinois, Rachel Hoopsick drops her two children at preschool within the morning, although she worries their vaccinations aren’t an ideal shield against the coronavirus and certainly one of them is medically vulnerable.

Then Dr. Hoopsick, an assistant professor of kinesiology and community health, heads to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she teaches a big class (including many unmasked students) about public health measures (like masks) that may curb the spread of infectious disease.

Life seems like an exercise in double-think, she said. “To take part in society straight away,” she said, “you have got to either be blissfully unaware or to dissociate and carry on as if there isn’t a pandemic.”

On a sunny weekend day at his maple syrup and candy stand at a highway rest stop in upstate Recent York, Chris Smith, 67, donned a mask each time customers wearing masks approached.

But he stopped worrying about his own health way back. Medical science had gotten the higher of the coronavirus, he said, comparing it to influenza — “here without end,” but not as dangerous because it was before vaccines and coverings arrived.

“Now I figure if I do get it, they at the very least have an idea how one can save me,” Mr. Smith, of White Creek, N.Y., said.

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