I wake up feeling exhausted. This seemingly never-ending nightmare of mutating coronavirus keeps sucking the life out of me. During this past summer, we were receiving some signs of hope that COVID was in decline; this hope was ripped out from under us when the delta variant stood its ground and went rogue. Now, a new and upcoming challenger to the title “most transmissible coronavirus,” Omicron, is usurping a good deal of the media power away from the delta variant. This is a day-to-day developing story. I certainly understand that our medical and scientific professionals in infectious diseases aren’t in a position to supply the public with definitive answers because there are none right now. Almost daily, we are given updates on the spread of Omicron worldwide with the plea given to get vaccinated, and for those who are fully vaccinated and six months out from their second shot, to get the booster shot.
If the emergence of a new variant wasn’t enough, my “frustration” pot continues to boil over. I am amazed at the still large number of people who refuse to take this health crisis seriously. They are out and about in crowded indoor settings(retail stores and shopping malls), maskless and seemingly strolling around without a care in the world. “What pandemic? You’re taking my freedom away from me.” We are not talking about the common cold virus here, folks! We are talking about a virus that has taken the lives of over 800 thousand Americans since the pandemic began in March 2020. That cold hard number includes grandpas, grandmas, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and yes, children, who no longer see the dawn of a new day.
I consider myself blessed to live in America, but in this nation of abundance, we rank as the country with the highest death toll due to COVID in the entire world. There are several reasons for this, but one that stands out to me is the inability and willingness of a sizable portion of our citizenry to believe the medical facts and warnings that have been given out from the very start of this pandemic. We cry out we don’t want our freedoms taken away, but at the same time, many lives have been needlessly taken away due to this murderous virus. When you are on your death bed gasping for air is not the time to come to your senses. The time is now. Not tomorrow. Now.
Our health systems, physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, etc., are at the brink of collapse. Due to the huge influx of COVID patients into hospitals, the available space to treat these patients is severely limited. Add to that number those patients who are admitted due to an acute health issue. There are staffing shortages because some of these highly trained medical professionals simply are emotionally and physically worn out and have left the professions they once loved. They leave to save and heal what’s left of their own lives after having made so many sacrifices.
Unfortunately, we have been told that COVID will always be a part of our lives to some degree. We don’t know when conditions surrounding this disease will hopefully stabilize. Some hypothesize that by the first part of 2022, more than a million lives will be lost in the United States due to the variants of COVID. That’s a heart-stopping number. Please get vaccinated. Please get the booster if eligible. Please wear masks when inside a crowded indoor setting whether you are vaccinated or not. We stand a chance if we work together to fight this virus rather than pointing fingers at each other and name-calling.
I pray for a day when I can awake in the morning, and all of this will be behind us. Until then, the thought of COVID and how its onslaught has affected so many lives continues to haunt me.
Michele Luckenbaugh is a patient advocate.