Today, I learned that two people whom I love dearly have been infected with Covid-19. It's possible, if not likely, that they've infected others.
The news made me recall a recent comment on social media: "You don't die from Covid, you die with Covid." I couldn't believe my eyes, couldn't believe the (willful?) ignorance behind such a reckless statement.
People, please. For the sake of the nation and the welfare of its people, especially vulnerable folks—the elderly, the infirm, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, children and adults like my son Calvin, and those with other preexisting conditions like cancer, diabetes, COPD—please stop spreading misinformation about Covid-19. Just stop. And take precautions not just for yourself, but for others: wear a mask indoors and in public spaces when near others; understand that the only reliably safe Covid pod or bubble is your own household.
Here are some facts:
Fact: Covid-19 is not "just like the flu;" First, Covid-19 can cause serious complications including long-term damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys, brain and other organs. Second, it is thought to be substantially more deadly (possibly ten times or more) than most strains of influenza.
Fact: Increased testing does not fully account for the rapid increase in reported cases; that is a false and reckless narrative. While more testing helps to reveal existing cases, the fact is the virus is spreading exponentially. For evidence, just look to the recent spike in hospitalizations and deaths nationwide, even in just the past two weeks. On Thursday, states reported 163,000 new cases of covid-19 and over 1,500 deaths—the highest number since May. Sixty-six thousand people are currently hospitalized. Texas has had to set up mobile morgues.
Fact: People don't just die with Covid, they die from Covid. Evidence: according to data from the CDC, the US has had nearly 280,000 extra deaths this year as of the end of September. That roughly correlates to the Covid-19 deaths thus far this year, which is rapidly nearing 250,000 (and thought by experts to be undercounted.)
Fact: Many people with Covid-19 are presymptomatic or asymptomatic, which means they could be unwittingly spreading the virus to others.
Fact: Doctors and public health officials are saying that small gatherings—dinner parties, carpools, playdates—create perfect conditions for the virus to spread among people who are crowded into poorly ventilated spaces. Experts remind us that we should avoid spending more than 15 minutes (in any 24-hour period) within six feet of people who don't live in our household, and they are begging folks to stay home for the holidays this year—i.e. just because he's your grandpa or grandson doesn't mean he doesn't have Covid.
Fact: Scientific research shows that wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of the virus to others and could help to prevent getting it. Keeping public safety in mind, wearing a mask is no more of an infringement on our freedoms than wearing a seat belt or driving on the right side of the road; we follow these precautions to keep ourselves and others safe from harm. We could consider wearing a mask as a tiny, patriotic sacrifice for our fellow Americans.
We can stop this virus' wicked trajectory if we are committed. For me, all it took was imagining my husband and/or my son in the hospital.
Wear a mask to protect others and to protect yourself. It's not that hard. What's hard is losing a parent or child to coronavirus. What's hard is being on a ventilator for weeks. What's hard is dying in a hospital without loved ones nearby. What's hard is working sixteen-hour shifts to help keep Covid patients alive.
What's hard is knowing it didn't have to be this way.
|Calvin in the hospital, 2006|