Growing up, I considered myself rather athletic. I played in soccer and baseball teams through my teen years, while I also enjoyed playing tennis, racquetball, and golf. I also swam on a swim team for a number of years. I distinctly remember my coach reminding us each summer to make sure we swim through the finish and not just glide into the wall.
This is what I feel is happening in states across the country that are ending their mask mandates. Rather than keeping a proven COVID deterrent in place (or even doubling down as get closer and closer to the COVID finish line), the governors of these states are easing up.
I think we can all agree that wearing our masks would not be our first choice of an accessory if we did not need to wear them. However, we continue to do so because we understand that they save lives and this is something we can do to help.
Please do not get me wrong… I am excited that we are at a place that our leaders and scientists feel that they can loosen the restrictions, but I am concerned that as the numbers continue to decline and more in society begins to open, people will begin to lower their guard and the numbers will skyrocket, especially with the new variants.
I want our small businesses and restaurants who have been hit so hard financially to be able to fully open and operate. I will also be one of the parents who will be jumping up and down when my girls are finally able to return to in-person learning.
There is a caveat to all of this….
It is important to understand the reticence felt by so many people because they are scared. While more and more people are receiving their first (or second) vaccination, there is still a huge majority of society who has not. They are scared that as more things open up and as the restrictions continue to lessen, there continues to be a chance that people will be exposed, unknowingly and may become infected. And that feeling is real.
So what do we do? How do we handle this situation?
Well…. I think we need to continue to show compassion, understanding, and have empathy for how people are feeling - and that goes for people on both sides. This includes everyone – from teachers who are concerned about returning to the classroom before they have the protections in place that they feel they need, to the small business owners or workers who desperately need to get back to work in order to survive financially.
It is also important to remember that while there is great excitement as more and more vaccines becoming available, and as the restrictions are loosening, we cannot lose sight that people are still dying every day. When you can, take a moment to remember them (and their loved ones), by reading One by One: A Prayer as the COVID-19 Death Toll Mounts, written by Alden Solovy.
With each day, we are getting closer and closer to the finish line, and now is the time for us to redouble our efforts to make sure we finish strong.