Stephanie Hayes

Thanks to the omicron variant, there are roughly 70 flagrillion cases of COVID-19 in the country.

Omicron is breaking through vaccines, though it bears repeating ONE! MORE! TIME! that vaccines and boosters are reducing symptoms and saving lives, and everyone should get jabbed, if possible. Also, testing is key when exposed or feeling bad.

But let’s talk more about feeling bad! Remember the days when you could have a sniffle and watch murder documentaries for a couple days without wondering if you were contributing to the fall of society? Since this variant is so breakthrough-y, it has resulted in the following thought process anytime one takes ill:

Is it oak pollen, or is it COVID-19?

Is it the common cold, or is it COVID-19?

Is it a migraine, or is it COVID-19?

Is it a silent scream into the ether, or is it COVID-19?

Is this food really bland and flavorless, or is it COVID-19? Furthermore, should I tell my date that her food is really bland and flavorless?

Is my new shampoo leaving my hair dull and lifeless, or is it COVID-19?

Is it a botfly infection, or is it COVID-19? Are there even botflies here?

Is it my past choices coming back to haunt me at a time I least expect, or is it COVID-19?

Is it the creeping feeling that I left the curling iron/coffee pot/bathroom candle on, or is it COVID-19?

Is it bad shrimp, or is it COVID-19?

Is it the urge to get bangs, or is it COVID-19?

Is it generalized anxiety disorder, or is it COVID-19? Why not both?!

Is it an alert from my bank that my balance is low, or is it COVID-19?

Is it a bite from a radioactive spider that will give me extraordinary strength and speed, but also great power and responsibility, or is it COVID-19?

Is it the all-consuming existential dread I face each day living in a pandemic that never seems to relent and only mutates and spreads, or is it COVID-19?

Is it … whatever, I’m getting four tests.

— Stephanie Hayes is a columnist at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. Follow her on Twitter: @StephHayes and Instagram: @StephHayes. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.