America, known for its freedoms and as the place where dreams come true, the place where people from all over the world come to seek a better life. America, the place where 306,427 people have died in less than a year, the place where we decided our healthcare workers and our elderly and our sick were expendable so as not to lose a couple of restaurant outings and the occasional visit with a friend.
As I sit here writing this, I know I will update the death numbers by a few thousand by the time of publishing. On average, we lose a couple thousand Americans a day. A day. And our president does not seem to care. In his own words, he downplayed the virus to avoid panic. Well, Mr. President, we are not panicked enough. A virus with the capability to wipe out an entire generation of Americans should cause panic. A virus that has long-term effects on our youth should cause panic. A virus that spreads like wildfire after even a few minutes of contact should cause panic. Pretending like it shouldn’t is not brave; it’s embarrassing. It’s unacceptable. This, this virus that we let overtake us, was preventable.
Our country’s politicians love to make excuses: the virus started in China, the virus has a low death rate, the virus is a hoax designed to make us look bad. To that I say, enough. It has long past the time to accept the realities of the world we live in. The virus may have started in China, but we let it spread to every corner of our country. The virus has a low death rate, but since when was losing over 300,000 people something we deemed acceptable? The virus is most certainly not a hoax, and, rather, politicians look bad because they let this happen without blinking an eye.
Other countries have proven they can limit the spread. New Zealand residents walk outside without masks; they go to concerts and restaurants and see their friends. We chose to reopen again too early, multiple times, because America’s legacy in this pandemic is one of selfishness and lack of togetherness. In a time when we should have banded together, we broke apart. Factions of Americans metaphorically and literally spit on the rest of us when they choose to leave their homes without a mask and ignore the most basic science. And nobody is truly safe. Perfectly healthy young Americans have gotten COVID-19 and died. Elderly Americans who have seen a large chunk of our history have gotten COVID-19 and died. Americans everywhere in between have gotten COVID-19 and died.
We still have time to honor those we have lost. We can do it by wearing masks, social distancing when possible and, most importantly, getting the vaccine when it is made available to the general public.
To the politicians who continue to dance around the topic of this virus, downplaying it, do better. Remember why you took office: not to defend your party till its last dying breath, but to help us, the American people. So help us. Then, and only then, can you say you hold an office of the people.