By D. Kevin McNeir
Executive Editor, New Jersey Urban News
As the days grow shorter and the heat of summer gives way to cooler fall temperatures, the U.S. has reached a disturbing milestone six months after the coronavirus invaded our lives.
Data released by the Centers for Disease Control on Sept.28 shows that COVID-19 total cases and deaths have eclipsed 7,095,422 and 204,328, respectively.
In New Jersey, the numbers for both categories have seen a slow but steady increase over the past several weeks – just as many citizens had hoped that things would return to normal.
Instead, it looks like schools will continue to operate in virtual mode, restaurants will remain limited to carry-out or outdoor service and the doors to churches and movie theaters will stay shuttered as small business owners hang on for dear life.
Despite the conflicting rhetoric issued nearly every day by Donald Trump and his minions, according to officials and health experts, infections will in all likelihood escalate this fall and winter forcing authorities to reverse course and tighten restrictions on public activities.
In fact, the “real” experts warn us that within the next several months, the U.S. will face a
“twindemic” – that is, the confluence of two infectious disease outbreaks: influenza and COVID-19. They predict that with the frigid temperatures most of Americans will again endure during the winter that will result in more people staying indoors, often in large groups, conditions will be ripe for a “perfect storm.”
It’s understandable that many citizens have long grown frustrated after complying with local shutdown orders and other measures initiated as early as March in efforts to contain the virus that have not achieved the desired ends – driving down infections. The result has been what’s now referred to as “COVID fatigue.”
From my perspective, this “COVID fatigue” is little more people who have become accustomed to doing their own thing in a society which allows for the prevalence of instant gratification, giving excuses for their inability or refusal to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing whenever in public.
During my freshman year in college, while pledging Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., we were instructed to memorize a poem entitled, “Excuses.” Its message seems apropos in response to those who lament changes from the norm due to coronavirus, even saying they can’t take much more of this.
Excuses are monuments of nothing that lead to nowhere. Those who use these tools of incompetence are masters of nothing.
The reality we must all accept is things are going to get worse as the tandem of weather and noncompliance frustrate our hopes that the virus would have begun to wane after nearly seven months of unprecedented shutdowns and shuttering.
Further, ‘COVID fatigue,” which some may be using as an excuse to hit the local watering hole or to throw caution to the wind and join dangerously large groups at outdoor concerts and beaches, also represents a legitimate case – a public weariness that has overwhelmed hundreds of thousands after following months over six months of adhering to health guidelines.
So, what’s a person to do? While I’ve never asked my physician for a flu shot, this year I’m going to do it. Meanwhile, I’m going to follow the three S’s:
SELFISH because I want to stay out of the hospital during COVID-19 as getting both influenza and coronavirus could prove deadly.
SELFLESS because I want to prevent hospitals near me from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.
SCIENTIFIC because vaccinations boost the immune system.
May the “Force” and common sense be with you all!
By D. Kevin McNeir