Imagine being a healthcare worker who has worked on the front lines since the very beginning of the pandemic. You are dressed head to toe in personal protective equipment and it is the middle of spring, but summer is on the horizon.
You are working day-in and day-out to make sure people stay alive while they are losing control of their lungs, their kidneys are failing and some have no choice but to be placed on ventilators.
You lose patients along the way, and witness the carnage the coronavirus has left in its wake and yet, even as an essential worker, you decide not to wear a mask.
This is not a fictitious scenario. It happened in my own family.
The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been forcefully making its way through the U.S., accumulating more than 4.6 million confirmed cases. As states began to reopen, California passed the former epicenter of the coronavirus, New York, with 509,162 confirmed cases. Yet, people continue to search for “normalcy” in a situation that is anything but.
Locally, some of my own relatives are not taking the pandemic seriously and have in turn infected people in my own household.
My household consists of an immunocompromised sibling and a high-risk mother and grandmother. My aunt, an essential worker who should have known better, was willing to put all of our lives at stake and neglected to tell us when she tested positive for the coronavirus.
We have not left the house since July 28, when we were told by another relative that my aunt tested positive. She wanted to “wait to tell us.”
Because a primary care physician told us we cannot be tested until we experience flu-like symptoms, my mother has begun taking everyone’s temperatures and blood pressure every morning to chart how we are doing.
I am more hurt than upset that my aunt would do this—it is as if she cared more about her patients than her own family.
She is no better than the social media influencers who are adding fuel to the fire by partying in groups and traveling as if we are not all in a global pandemic. They are acting as if death rates have gone down, while sharing every waking minute of their reckless behavior on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.
Influencers in California, in particular, are having birthday and release parties, but are now seeing the consequences of not social distancing or wearing a mask.
TikTokers and YouTubers in popular houses—where social media personalities and influencers live together and make content—such as Team 10 and the Hype House, can be seen all over social media partying with no masks or flying from state to state. They are telling their young, impressionable audiences that it is fine to do the same, when it certainly is not.
Not only is this setting a bad example for others, but these influencers could infect innocent people who shop at the same grocery store or who work at the restaurants where the influencers dine.
As someone who saw first-hand the kind of carnage the coronavirus can cause, and how it is tearing families apart, to not pay the same reverence to your own family is appalling.
There is no excuse, but what do you say when your relatives are acting like influencers looking for a good time? What do you say when family members disregard the ever-climbing numbers to have a Father’s Day barbecue? How do you forgive them?
As of now, there is still no vaccine or cure for the coronavirus and there is no way the U.S. will slow the curve if people do not stay inside, practice social distancing and wear a mask if they have to leave the house.
To say the coronavirus does not exist or to act recklessly is disrespectful to the people who have lost their own or close relative’s lives.
Eating at a restaurant can wait. Birthday parties can wait. Road trips and vacations can wait. You can make all of those memories later, but you can not make up for losing a life.
The coronavirus does not care how much money you have or how old your grandchildren are. This pandemic is far from over, and nothing will be what people perceive as normal ever again.