COLUMN: We can’t pretend the pandemic is over

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

You’re sick and tired of it, I’m sick and tired of it—it’s understandable that no one wants to hear about COVID-19 anymore. We just want to live our lives and forget that 2020 ever happened.

Unfortunately, the pandemic that defined most of 2020 rages on in 2021, as the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus threatens more lives.

Before I go any further, I want to issue a disclaimer: I didn’t write this column to start an argument, or even to convince you of anything. Chances are you’ve already made up your mind exactly how you intend to respond to this pandemic, and it’s highly unlikely that anything I say will change that.

Why am I writing about COVID-19, then? Because people I know are dying, and I don’t want anyone else to die.

Yet, we live in a divided world. Misinformation is so widespread that people can’t even agree on which misinformation to dispel. Online arguments go like this: One person shares statistics to show why masks work. Then, somebody replies with a different set of statistics showing why masks don’t work. In the end, nothing gets accomplished.

Studies show that it’s incredibly easy to lie with statistics—that is, you can twist and use stats to back up any argument that you want to make. And forget about fact checkers; people only believe them if they support their opinion.

It’s been said before, but we tend to ruin things when we politicize them. The COVID-19 pandemic and everything associated with it—masks, vaccines, controversial origin theories, etc.—have been politicized to death.

I don’t know about you, but I’m done listening to politicians when it comes to issues of public health. Here in America, I’m convinced that many of our politicians are more concerned about getting re-elected than about protecting the public (gasp…just imagine that!)

Here we go—I believe that masks help, and that vaccines provide some degree of protection. I think the smartest course of action is to get vaccinated and wear a mask in public until this thing is under control again.

But don’t read this column and think that I’m trying to guilt trip you into wearing a mask or getting vaccinated. Right now, it’s your choice. As for me, I chose to receive the vaccine; as for mask-wearing, I have been deciding that on a case-by-case basis.

What I will tell you is this—COVID-19 has claimed the lives of two city leaders of my hometown. It has claimed multiple members of my church family. I know someone else who is in the hospital fighting for her life, as I write these very words.

Regardless of your opinion, I do know that this virus is out there and it should be taken seriously. Please take care.