By Chris B. Bennett, Publisher/CEO
By now, many people are either tired of or growing immune to information about COVID-19. The fact remains that we know much more about COVID than we did 18 months ago, but many people want to play ignorant or still try to convince themselves that somehow the pandemic is a hoax.
Then there are those among us trying to make a personal, religious, and/or political statement about their refusal to get vaccinated for COVID. For example, in my state of Washington, some people are literally walking away from good-paying jobs because they refuse to comply with a vaccine mandate for state and local government employees. Teachers, police officers, firefighters, clerks, and the likes are leaving jobs paying anywhere from $65,000 per year and above. In the case of the former head football coach of Washington State University, Nick Rolovich, who was fired on Monday for not getting vaccinated, he walked away from a job paying him an annual salary of $3 million through 2025.
Some of these people walking away from these jobs have a legitimate reason for not wanting to take the vaccine. Still, others are the same people who refused to wear a mask before the vaccine was available and continued to not wear a mask even though they may have come in close contact with the general public as part of their daily job duties. I would venture to say that some of them were the same people you saw on various social media platforms hosting Superbowl parties during the height of the pandemic because they weren’t going to let the government spoil their annual celebration.
The other set of people I find to be hypocritical as it relates to COVID are those who refuse to get vaccinated because they don’t know what’s in it. Which I find to be quite odd because many of them take other products that have been approved by the FDA, like aspirin and cough syrup. They may not know what’s in it, but they sure will take it whenever they aren’t feeling well. And to take it a step further, in my State of Washington, where you can legally buy recreational marijuana, some, not all, of these same people will smoke marijuana and not question what’s in it. While I’m not an expert in this field by any means, what I can tell you is that these shops carry marijuana in many different flavors and colors, which I’m sure is not normal.
At the end of the day, it really does not matter to me if people choose to get vaccinated or not. That is your decision. But we are way past the time for people making statements as it relates to COVID, and it is now time to make a decision. A decision that will help us finally get past this pandemic and get back to living our lives in a way that is free from the fear of the unknown. It’s time to make a decision to do at least one of the things that will help reduce the spread of the virus, and we all know what they are – get vaccinated, wear a mask, social distance, and stay away from large indoor and outdoor gatherings.
According to the CDC, there are 66 million people who have not been vaccinated in the U.S., and 55% of the Black people in America over the age of 12 who are eligible to receive a COVID vaccine have been vaccinated. This means that nearly one out of every two Black people that you encounter, statistically speaking, have not been vaccinated. How many Black people do you come across on a daily basis who are not wearing a mask? Want to shake your hand? Or give you a hug? If the COVID pandemic were a movie that we were watching, Black people would be the main ones screaming at the screen to “RUN AWAY FROM THE GUY NOT WEARING THE MASK,” “WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE NOT TAKING THE VACCINE,” and “SHOOT, IF IT WAS ME, I WOULD GET AS FAR AWAY FROM THERE AS POSSIBLE.” But in real life, many of us choose to do the opposite of what we said we would do in the fantasy land of cinema.
When we are making decisions regarding COVID, we must think about this pandemic in terms of evolution because the reality is that this virus, without proper intervention, is evolving. As human beings, we get bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter with each generation. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is doing the same thing. Each generation/variant is becoming more efficient at breaking through your body’s defense network, getting stronger, becoming more elusive, and more easily transmittable. The Delta variant carries a viral load that is 1,000 times greater than the original strain of COVID. Imagine what that means if we continue to let new variants flourish in our bodies for another 18 months.
To survive, COVID needs a host to carry it from one office to another, from one football game to the bar, from one bus to a school, and from one party to another. By failing to do anything to protect yourself and others from COVID, you are volunteering to at some point be a host/carrier, and literally, as it breaks down and mates with your immune system, you personally run the risk of giving birth to the next generation of COVID.
Nobody in this world owes you anything. But if you truly believe that you were put on this world to achieve greatness, you need to preserve your gift(s) for the masses to cherish. All of us are waiting to see this pandemic come to an end, and every day all of us make decisions on what that may look like. The only thing in question is who among us will be here to see it.