In the United States, 1 in every 1000 people has died from COVID-19.
I try to let that sink in, and it’s difficult. How do you begin to grieve such enormous losses? That’s a shocking statistic, but people are also much more than statistics. Some are missing at the dining table. Some are no longer picking up their kids from school. Some are no longer being visited in care facilities. All are particular people with names, stories, personalities, preferences, and quirks. All are loved and missed — by people with names, stories, personalities, preferences, and quirks.
And in addition to the 1 in 1000 people who have died, a much larger number of people are dealing with ongoing symptoms that are affecting their respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems in persistent ways. This is known as Post-COVID Syndrome.
We have authorized vaccines, and many of us eagerly await the occasion to receive them. But we also have other protective tools and measures. We have masks, physical distancing, and for those who can do this (this can be a privilege, I realize) we have the occasion to stay at home as often as possible. We need to use these wisely because vaccine distribution is going to take a significant amount of time, and the numbers are still on the rise. Our healthcare workers ask this of us because they are stretched so thin with hospitals filling to capacity. In many places, hospitals are beyond capacity with patients receiving care in hallways and in what used to be gift shops.
What we choose to do impacts people beyond ourselves.
I heard a podcast earlier this week about how contract tracers are having difficulty in following up with people who have been exposed to the coronavirus. I feel for them because this sounds like hard-wrought, emotional work. While listening, I was surprised that one of the locations featured was Washtenaw County, Michigan where I live. While precautions are needed everywhere, our transmission rate numbers are pretty middle-of-the-road. There are growing challenges right here, and of course, in all the “right here-s” wherever we may live.
I encourage people to listen to this 12-minute story: Contact Tracers Struggle to Keep Up as Coronavirus Cases Surge from Holiday Travel.
We’ve come this far, and the road has been difficult. I certainly understand that desire to gather and socialize. I feel it too. But we’ve also come this far with these losses; we know that more will continue if we let our guard down. We’re worth it. Our neighbors are worth it.