After so many of us living in isolation for the better part of last year, things could be looking up. President Joe Biden announced on Thursday night plans to speed up the vaccination process, opening up vaccines to all U.S. adults by May 1 with the hopes that people can start gathering in small groups again by the Fourth of July. And suddenly it's starting to look like we might have some semblance of a more normal summer, including the reintroduction of casual hookups.
“While it was different for everyone, we all lost something,” Biden said from the White House East Room on Thursday, adding that the last year has been one of “collective suffering, a collective sacrifice.” The president said that as vaccine supplies continue to increase in the coming months, he will direct states to make them available to all adults by May 1 while also launching a website to help people find doses of the vaccine.
The process thus far has varied state by state, with many hurdles in the way of easily getting vaccinated as many people are “searching day and night for an appointment,” said Biden. But "finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it may be the most American thing we do," he said. Because a year into the pandemic, people across the country are exhausted by collective grief and loss and need something to look forward to.
With some newfound hope for vaccinations speeding up nationwide, the question now remains: Will this be the summer of casual sex?
Many people certainly seem to think so, as lots of tweets have been churned out with excitement for a horny, post-vaccination 2021 summer. Since the start of pandemic lockdowns last year, sex has been on a lot of people’s minds, with many of us longing for sexual intimacy, especially those weathering the pandemic alone. It’s to be expected, of course, since the federal government in 2020 advised people who don’t live together to stay apart for the foreseeable future to slow the spread of the deadly virus.
Throughout the pandemic, people have been navigating sexual and physical intimacy in different ways. Some people stopped having sex altogether, while others increased communication about boundaries and COVID risk factors before meeting up with someone new.
"What this means for the future is that we’re going to see a wide range of reactions as we come out of lockdown," Justin Lehmiller, a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, told Vox last year. He later added, "Long-term abstinence, especially when it’s not by personal choice, is something that most people find very difficult to stick to."
Some U.S. leaders recognized how hard things have become for a lot of single young people. Just last week, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders went viral on Twitter after addressing the Senate floor about the trauma and mental health risks of a year spent mostly at home and in isolation due the pandemic. “You’ve got young people who want to go to school, who want to socialize, want to date, want to do things that young people do,” the senator said. “And they can’t do it and have been unable to do that for the last year, and that has resulted in a very sharp increase in mental illness in this country.” Bernie's call to help young people get back to having sex and dating did not go unappreciated.
While many people can look forward to the prospect of having more sex in the near future, we should also still be taking necessary precautions to keep ourselves and each other safe. New COVID cases have continued dropping across the country, but experts worry that this could also lead to more surges as people start relaxing safety measures. Meanwhile, Republican governors like Texas' Greg Abbott are starting to lift statewide restrictions to get "back to normal" before mass vaccination efforts have been fully rolled out. And even as more and more people continue to get vaccinated, people should continue wearing masks and social distancing in public, and discussing COVID risks before meeting up with strangers.
Now that the federal government seems to have a plan to roll out more vaccinations, people are ready to get to it. For the first time in an entire year, there is some hope that we can gather with our families, hug our friends, kiss and cuddle our partners — and make up for lost time hooking up with strangers.