It has been a year and a half since the world went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Until late spring, no one had the comfort of being protected from COVID-19 or the assurance that they had a reduced chance of infecting others until the vaccines were rolled out in 2021.
Yet COVID-19 cases in the local area are rising rapidly and vaccination rates remain low. Positive cases will not fall until vaccination rates rise. Shippensburg University enjoyed a brief mask-free period in the summer until cases began to rise resulting in a mask mandate being reinstated on campus.
Limiting the spread of COVID-19 is not a task that can be accomplished on an individual basos. It will take a group effort, where each member of the community works with one another to stop the pandemic. Yet the staunch individualism in America has given many people the idea that they are exempt from helping their neighbors.
Instead of engaging in the temporary discomfort of wearing a mask and trusting that the vaccine is effective like the scientist at the forfront of modern medicine say, people are choosing their own comfort and entertainment.
Instead of agreeing to temporary discomfort to help the community they live in and are an active part of, people are falling back on the idea that freedom means comfort.
Freedom has never met comfort. Freedom has never been achieved by complacency and unchanging routine.
For some people being free of COVID-19 means that they get to have a full social life again. For others being free of COVID-19 means they will no longer potentially be killed by going about their daily lives.
The immuno compromised, young and elderly are most at risk for contracting and being killed by COVID-19. The actions of an individual can affect many. A classmate might live with his or her elderly grandparent or a colleague might have a newborn child.
And if a person is not vaccinated, does not social distance or refuses to wear a mask, he or she could transmit the virus to that classmate or colleague who in return will unknowingly spread it to their loved ones who are in grave danger.
If local communities remain unvaccinated and unmasked, the pandemic will be fueled because it will easily spread. COVID-19 has brought not just indiscriminate death but financial ruin from the cost of increased demand of healthcare facilities and workers, more hurdles to jump through to access education and unbearable pressure on mental health.
Every aspect of a community it impacted experienced the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents, protectors, educators, workers, physicians and leaders are suffering or dying from COVID-19.
As their neighbors, it is up to each individual to make a choice - partake in uncomfortable practices proven to combat the virus or reject prevention measures and keep as much “normal” life, entertainment and comfort as possible.
Research and evidence has been found by the brightest minds in science around the world that shows getting vaccinated and wearing a mask are the most effective ways to end the iron grip the pandemic has on the world. These findings are located on the CDC website.
Americans still have the right to feel as they might and to their individuality. But the induvial comfort and entertainment and ease for one person is not worth it if the price is the loss of life.
Temporary discomfort far outweighs avoidable deaths.