The Coronavirus pandemic has entered its 11th month of wreaking havoc on American life as we once knew it, and it is of paramount importance that we continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Now is not the time to become negligent when it comes to the choices we are making, and we must stay aware of how the pandemic continues to affect people outside of our personal circles. Although the numbers of cases are decreasing, new variants of the virus and large groups of Americans being irresponsible intensifies the need to remain smart in regards to safety.
New mutated variants of COVID-19 from the United Kingdom and South Africa have both reached the United States, and these variants can spread much easier from person to person. Although vaccines are proving to be effective against these new versions of the virus, they are more contagious than the one that has been present in the US for the past year and pose a higher risk to elderly individuals and people with underlying conditions. Continuing to wear masks (even double-masking, which health experts are starting to recommend), maintaining a six-foot distance from others around you and washing your hands regularly can mitigate the risk of potentially spreading these deadly new variants from other countries.
While you may not be considered high risk or of an age that puts you in a more vulnerable position, others around you may not be so fortunate. The devastating effects that COVID-19 can have on these individuals go beyond just the risk of death, as they can leave long-lasting side effects that can potentially affect them for the rest of their life.
Heart palpitations, lung function abnormalities, long-term loss of sense of taste or smell and, of course, death, are just a handful of the most serious of long-term side effects of COVID-19. Going out to parties, hanging out with large groups of people and refusing to wear a mask properly is not worth losing your life or healthiness over.
Moreover, there has been an increasing concern over the number of people wearing masks incorrectly, and people refusing to wear any type of mask whatsoever. They argue that mask mandates “impede on their freedom,” but one could make the argument that wearing masks incorrectly hinders their freedom more than just simply wearing a mask in general.
If you refuse to wear a mask, the chance of you getting the virus and transmitting it to others increases substantially. Therefore, the more people that wear masks incorrectly, the longer the pandemic becomes, and, in turn, the longer mask mandates need to be implemented. Wearing masks incorrectly defeats the whole purpose of the mask as well, as it needs to be covering your mouth and nose completely, and cannot be taken on and off repeatedly. Masks have been proven to be effective tools for lessening the transmission of viruses; so the more people that wear masks correctly, the sooner the pandemic ends.
A prevalent factor in the increased longevity of the COVID-19 pandemic lately has been the unwillingness of the American population to sacrifice. At the beginning of the pandemic, many Americans were willing to stay at home in order to protect the safety of themselves and the people around them. However, in recent months, it seems as if millions of Americans are simply “done” with remaining responsible, and have decided to prematurely resume their social lives that took a pause at the beginning of Spring 2020.
Many of these negligent Americans attempt to justify going out in large groups without following safety protocols such as wearing masks or remaining six-feet away from others by saying that “cases are going down” or “more people are getting vaccinated.” While both are true, only one percent of the American adult population is fully vaccinated, and the decrease in cases is likely due to the decline from the influx of numbers recorded as a result of the holiday season.
The United States is currently in another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and, as the past several disappointing months have told us, cases can rise just as fast as they can fall. Although vaccination rates across the country are rising, and in turn, cases are falling, this is in no way a green light to go out and party with friends. It will be months before a suitable percentage of the American population is vaccinated, so, until then, show compassion and responsibility by continuing to wear masks, staying socially distant and following CDC guidelines.