Seattle is back, though it’s not back to normal.

How does one define pre-pandemic normal? Heavy traffic? Loud, crowded restaurants? The day-to-day minutiae of a workplace?

Traffic has almost reached its previous aggravating volumes. Restaurants, bars and most everything else is open. Workers at some of the region’s largest employers are returning to their cubicles.

And yet, daily new coronavirus case counts in Washington remain in the thousands, according to the state Department of Health. About a fifth of the state’s hospital beds are occupied by patients who were admitted with COVID. People are still dying from virus complications.

The dichotomy of feeling hopeful as restrictions ease, while also grieving from the past 24 months, can be dizzying. More than 11,000 Washington residents have died, countless others are hurting from the loss of loved ones, of connections, of important milestones.

Two years ago this week, the first COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. were reported at Life Care Center of Kirkland, marking the Seattle area as the country’s initial epicenter.   

Long gone are the goals of “flattening the curve.” There will be no COVID victory march. Instead, experts say, Seattle is approaching a reopened life, with COVID.

To read more, please visit The Seattle Times.