Life Advice



Ask Amy: A reader reflects on the ongoing Covid risk

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I'm writing in response to “E.D.” who wrote that the pandemic has changed her. I found your advice for her to engage in her cultural interests of music and art useful, but I wanted to offer my perspective, as someone who wishes desperately that I could do these things without considering my personal risk.

I'm a 65-year-old physician with an immune deficiency, and I still need to consider my risk every day. As infectious disease specialist Michael Osterholm says, we're still in the "high plains plateau" of the pandemic, where real people are dying of Covid daily.

As the risk is narrowed to older people and people with medical issues, it's reasonable for lower-risk people to move on. But those of us who still face the concern of a virus that could harm or kill us are more and more isolated.

I'd love to move freely and not feel so judged when I wear a mask. And as masks are now optional in health care settings, per CDC guidance, there are really no public spaces that are risk-free for me at this point.

I've talked to my physicians and a psychologist about this, but I'm struggling. I appreciate my friends who see my need and don't reject me.

Compassion, acceptance, and tolerance are greatly appreciated.


There are different realities, and people are really on their own to assess their risk and risk tolerance at this point, and for the foreseeable future. It's very stressful.

– JN, MD

Dear JN: Thank you for reminding us that for many, the pandemic is not over.

I cannot fathom wondering about or judging anyone’s choice to wear a mask.


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