Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. and infielder Daniel Descalso eat lunch during a workout at Wrigley Field on July 4, 2020.

The Great Covid Coop-up is now into its fifth month and shows no signs of ending. 

Major League Baseball began today in empty ballparks. Bars, salons, gyms and many restaurants are closed. Only the bravest (or most rash) among us dare travel. Plus, most nations won’t let Americans in anyway. 

So when will it end? And, more importantly, how will we know when it ends? Will the president tell us?  (Or has he already?) Maybe Dr. Fauci will let us know. Or will we wake up one morning, decide for ourselves that the virus is history, then fly to Tijuana and get drunk with a mob of revelers? 

But no need to worry about this any longer: 

Below are my Top 40 clues that the pandemic might be over. If five or more of these things actually happen, the end is in sight. If all have come to pass, then it’s time to do Woodstock again – with a million of way-too-close close friends in a muddy pasture.   

My Covid-Over checklist:  

1. Coronavirus is not the lead evening news story for three days in a row. 

2. We only wear masks on Halloween or for bank robberies. 

3. Tuolumne and Calaveras counties “reopen” after case counts in each “plateau” at just over 1,000 (Or 3,000. Or insert your own number.)

4. The Covid testing center at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds closes after two weeks without a customer. 

5. Hugs are no longer seen as life-threatening assaults. 

6. Movie theaters reopen, and we’re not scared to go. 

7. We’re even OK with seatmates dipping into our popcorn.  

8. We are invited to parties, and actually show up. 

9. Zoom’s stock plunges, as thousands of former users vow “Never again!”

10. With up-close-and-personal contacts looming, deodorant and mouthwash stocks spike. 

11. An unanticipated toilet-paper surplus crowds other items off local markets shelves.  

12. Social distancing is viewed by a growing number of people as “anti-social.” 

13. “It’s the vaccine,” declares Dr. Fauci. “It works!” 

14. New Zealand and other Covid-free nations, which have for months banned U.S. citizens, begin pleading for Americans to visit. 

15. Wedding planners again have something to plan. 

16. Long-delayed “celebrations of life” for folks who died amid the pandemic begin happening. 

17. Sonora High and other area schools resume football, drawing  standing-room-only crowds. 

18. Several local care homes stage “grand reopening ceremonies.”  Unscreened visitors are invited onto their grounds and into their halls. Long-quarantined residents are encouraged to “get down and party.” 

19. Coughs no longer spur panic. 

20. Folks resume complaining about common colds. 

21. Retirees again view sea cruises as realistic vacation options.  

22. Lack of legroom replaces fear of death as the chief complaint of airline passengers. 

23. Those same passengers grudgingly accept being stuck in a middle seat as a fact of air-traveling life. 

24. A Highway 108 hitchhiker is picked up for the first time in months.

25. The 1960s fad of phone-booth stuffing enjoys a renaissance. What’s more, AT&T installs new phone booths for the first time in decades to meet demand. 

26. Reusable bags are again accepted at grocery stores. 

27. News of Record no longer includes snitches’ reports of  “large crowds of out-of-town people” at bars and restaurants

28. Blowhards are gradually (albeit reluctantly) re-accepted into American society. 

29. Hermits, introverts and recluses – viewed as model citizens throughout the pandemic – are again seen as hermits, introverts and recluses.

30. Stamp collecting, bird-watching, building ships in bottles, writing diaries and other solitary hobbies fall out of favor. 

32. Thousands of marriages are narrowly saved by the return of major sports on TV (and by the consequent, relationship-healing absence of husbands). 

33. Epidemiologists search for patients, and become depressed when reporters quit asking their opinions. 

34. One-issue politicians, who enjoyed popularity amid the Covid scare, are exposed as knowing nothing about infrastructure, foreign policy, taxation and a host of other non-medical issues. 

35. After months of riding their Boomer parents from afar for playing fast and loose with Corona restrictions, millennials tell Mom and Dad to “do whatever the hell you want.” 

36. “Hydroxychloroquine” becomes the answer to a trivia question. So does “bleach.” 

37. Covid memorabilia quickly becomes a growth industry, with rare masks and one-time-only cardboard baseball-fan cutouts fetching thousands. 

38. Both major political parties – and several minor and fringe parties  --  claim credit for eradicating the virus. 

39. A cottage industry emerges on predicting when the next virus might hit, how horrible it might be, and just how little we have learned. 

40. Suffering from what a panel of journalism professors deems “an acute and terminal lack of material,” this Geezer Diary passes on.  No celebration of life is scheduled. 

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