Most of us know someone who’s had it, and may even have gotten it once or twice ourselves. Still, there are plenty of people who haven’t had the virus, and that might be one reason a positive test result still makes headlines for public figures.
But maybe being famous isn’t reason enough anymore to tell us all about your Covid diagnosis.
Happily, the couple appears to have made a full recovery, even though Covid was at its deadly, pre-vaccination stage, when we were all still trying to figure out how best to protect ourselves. It was a phase of the pandemic when some people who seemingly were the picture of health suddenly became seriously ill, and sometimes even succumbed to the disease.
Mercifully, thanks to public health measures like vaccinations and masking, that happens much less frequently. What we’re more likely to find now, when famous people tell us they’ve got Covid even though they’re vaccinated and boosted, is they’ve got a bad case of the sniffles.
And yet, we probably shouldn’t expect these announcements to go away anytime soon. While the stigma against testing positive has dwindled — thanks, in large part, to the omicron variant which proved highly contagious, even among the vaccinated — the politics surrounding Covid have not diminished, and may never.
But living with Covid doesn’t mean pretending it doesn’t exist, and it’s still important to avoid getting the virus if you can. For some, it can have long-lasting health implications. For others, it can lead to death. There is much, too, we still don’t know about its long-term effects.
What living with Covid means is acknowledging its ongoing existence and that certain precautionary measures are important, and those measures may change as new variants emerge or waves of infection come up. In that way, continuing to hear about famous person X’s infection is a helpful reminder: We’re still in this. It’s not over yet, despite mask requirements easing and cases going down in many parts of the country and world.
And, frankly, it’s still important for “regular” folks to be candid about their own infection, if and when it happens. Encouraging anyone to keep it to themselves is a public health risk. While Hillary Clinton’s positive test has no impact on most of us, our coworker’s does. And if Clinton’s announcement helps reinforce to that coworker a positive test is something we just share, then it’s a useful tool.
Medical status is private until it has the potential to impact another. Do we want to hear about a famous person’s STD diagnosis? Not unless we’re sleeping with them. But hearing that information, not unlike hearing about their positive Covid test, undeniably helps lessen any stigma while issuing an important reminder: We’re responsible for more than just ourselves.