There is a natural human instinct to declare victory before it actually is achieved. From the Chicago Tribune’s infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline to wide receiver DeSean Jackson spiking the football before he reached the end zone that cost the Philadelphia Eagles a touchdown some years back, people under stress can make bad choices.
Sometimes, the impact merely is comical as with a football game or an instant collector’s item newspaper. But then there are times when such pronouncements can have deadly consequences.
Now happens to be one of those times.
We should all heed the warning of Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who this past week spoke openly about concerns of “impending doom” with the growing number of COVID-19 cases nationwide.
The numbers are the numbers. Cases are up about 10% nationwide from the previous week to about 60,000 cases per day. Across the U.S., hospitalizations and deaths are up as well. And Walensky’s chief concern is that the U.S. might experience the same spike in cases that recently hit Europe — France just announced a monthslong lockdown. Letting our guard down now, she observed, can lead to thousands of needless deaths.
For people to become complacent now, even as significant progress is being made in prevention with an estimated 16% of the U.S. populace now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, is to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The day is coming when people won’t have to wear masks. It just isn’t today.
We understand pandemic fatigue. Think there’s anyone who has enjoyed the social isolation, the economic slowdown, the job losses, the business failings, the deaths and despair that we all have experienced during this terrible year? Think again. We all can look forward to burning masks when the moment comes. And it surely can’t come too soon. But dropping our guard is not just endangering ourselves, it’s putting others at risk. Public health doesn’t come down to individual decisions, it represents our responsibility to each other. We are our brother’s and sister’s keeper when it comes to tiny droplets hanging in the air.
Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Maintain social distancing. Deadly COVID-19 variants and the possibility of yet another surge is just too high to take anything for granted. This past year, COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer, the CDC also confirmed this week. It’s just not something to take lightly.
— Adapted from The Baltimore Sun