I sound like a broken record. It seems like every few weeks I’m writing about COVID-19 in one way or another.
Well, I’m going to do so today because I’m really getting worried. I’m getting worried that this thing will be with us forever because we don’t know how to act. And I’m not just speaking about the vaccination. I understand legitimate vaccine hesitancy. I’m not going to dismiss people’s real questions and concerns. I say real because I’m not here for the conspiracy-theory based research. I just spoke with a relative who remembers her father being poked and prodded for a disease he never had. She remembers the nurses coming to their home every week. She doesn’t like needles. She has trust issues. She has PTSD, and I understood in that moment, I’m not equipped to help her overcome something so deep rooted.
Vaccination is one component — an important component — of the COVID-19 conversation, but when I say we don’t know how to act I’m talking about doing the things we’ve been asked to do since the coronavirus came on the scene — mask up and social distance. Yes, I know we’re tired of wearing masks, especially when we thought we were done with them, but the coronavirus isn’t done with us.
I’m also scared. I’m scared of this delta variant. It’s spreading like wildfire and doesn’t want to let up. The numbers were decreasing. It seemed like summer was the end, and our lives could finally get back to normal. We want to live again — be in crowded spaces and not worry about it being a super-spreader event. But this disease had different plans for us.
According to the Indiana Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard, Marion County has 371 cases per 100,000 residents weekly. In Indiana, the number of new cases as of Sept. 14 is 4,733 and the number of deaths between Aug. 21 and Sept. 14 is 68. Statewide, we have 2,227 ICU beds available. Of those beds, 32.4% are in use for COVID-19, 49.3% are in use for non-COVID-19 issues and 18.3% are available.
I’m worried and scared those numbers could get worse as the cold and flu season approaches. We social distanced last winter and that helped reduce the number of people with the cold or flu. That may not be the case this year. So, we’ll be back to hospitals, doctors and nurses imploring us to come to the hospital only if truly necessary. We’ll continue to see doctors and nurses burnt out from lack of sleep and self-care as they take care of others. We’ll continue to see doctors and nurses pleading with us to take COVID-19 seriously because it hurts them to see so much unnecessary death.
We shouldn’t be debating about whether to wear a mask or not. We want normal so bad we’re risking our lives for it. We’re willing to risk the lives of our children. Schools shouldn’t have to deal with angry mobs, looking for blood at the first sign of a mask mandate. Young teens shouldn’t be heckled by adults when they speak about their hurt at watching their grandmother die of COVID-19. The behavior of those adults in Tennessee was just shameful.
We also shouldn’t be debating all these months later if COVID-19 is real. The people who don’t believe the coronavirus is real are often the ones who aren’t taking any precautions, and these are the very people who don’t want to quarantine when they’re exposed, putting others at risk. Most of us don’t want to quarantine. It’s disruptive, but that’s what has to happen when people don’t act right.
I’m scared the next mutation could be even worse — more easily spread and more deadly. It shouldn’t take catching COVID-19, almost dying or having a loved one die before people recognize reality. Unfortunately, for some it does, and it will take more deaths that hit close to home before we do better.
I don’t want to live in an after COVID-19 world where we remember the fun days of not wearing a mask when we gather in public places, so for now I guess I’ll keep sounding like a broken record, reminding us how we should act.