Staff Picks

Tell Me When It's Over

Liam Dooley

February 09, 2024

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Pediatrician and vaccine expert Paul A. Offit provides an informative and accessible guide to navigating our changed world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is an understatement to say that Covid changed everything. On top of millions of unnecessary deaths, many shuttered businesses struggled and failed; children fell years behind in education; political divides grew wider; misinformation became rampant and nearly impossible to navigate.

I was 17 when I heard the word “Covid” for the first time, just a nebulous threat. By March of 2020, only two months later, my school was shut down for the foreseeable future. My small, conservative town handled the pandemic poorly and brought us back as soon as possible, resulting in continuous outbreaks my entire senior year of high school—more disruptive to education than online schooling would’ve been. I entered college with a mask on and will soon graduate in an arena, filled to the brim—unthinkable as little as a year ago.

Our relationship with Covid is in flux. Based on dusty hand sanitizer pumps and disposable masks littering the streets, Covid feels like a distant nightmare. But then we talk about the new variants like fast fashion, read think pieces about how to live with Covid, maybe skim the newest CDC guidelines when a friend is exposed. It’s difficult to find the answers to all our questions when the dust has hardly settled and it’s near impossible to figure out what the right thing to do is.

For me, Tell Me When It’s Over comes at the right time. Now removed from the initial panic of the pandemic, author and pediatrician Paul A. Offit presents well-researched and easy-to-understand information and advice. He starts with discussing the origin of the virus and takes the time to clear up many of the conspiracy theories that dominated headlines in the early months of the pandemic. I found myself immediately engrossed; it had been months since I’d thought about the lab leak theory, people using bleach and ivermectin as treatments for Covid, or the idea that masks might cause Covid to become more infectious and dangerous.

Offit also takes on the role of something like an investigative journalist, writing dossiers on the biggest names in the misinformation business. He follows the money and plainly shows the overlap of politics and misinformation, notably disclosing where many of these people were on January 6th, 2021, during the breach of the U.S. Capitol. Offit is an expert on the anti-vaccination movement and has long been a proponent of vaccination, especially for children. He tracks the anti-vaccination movement from its modern inception in 1982 to its explosion during the pandemic and offers explanations of its appeal and thorough debunking of its theories.

The guidebook ends with a discussion of what’s to come and considers many pertinent questions: Who should get boosted? What does it mean to be fully vaccinated? Should we still wear masks? What do we know about long Covid?

Tell Me When It’s Over has left me with a better understanding of what we went through and sound advice on how to continue. Offit, a voting member of Covid advisory boards and recipient of numerous scientific accolades, provides thorough, fact-checked information that was still easy for me to comprehend. If you’ve been looking for direction in a world you’re not even sure is post-Covid, this book is it. 

About the Author

Liam Dooley is an intern at Porchlight Book Company and a senior in his final semester at UW-Milwaukee, studying English and German. With knowledge of creative writing craft and style, he’s eager to see the lifecycle of books once they’re actually written. He can be found leaving UWM’s library minutes before the doors close on him and in DIY concert spaces, trying to make sure his earplugs don’t fall out.

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