COVID-19 pandemic creating waves of discord

William T. Robinson, Jr.

It is bad enough that the COVID-19 epidemic has created monumental ripples destined to upset our comfortable and calculated way of living, forcing us to adopt a new normal; however, probably just as unsettling is the public social strife arising from its effect upon us as a nation. We all are aware that the country as well as the world is not immune to COVID-19’s devastating effects. Literally, the virus is causing a schism among the people in this country at a time when we should be uniting together  to fight this pernicious demon.

This virus has single-handedly ignited incendiary emotions in our nation that seem to be proliferating particularly among people enthralled in fear, uncertainty, and hopelessness, contrasting with those of hope, faith, and empathy. The extent of one’s position seems to depend on the severity of one’s individual circumstances. Make no mistake, people are at their wit’s end. They are traumatized, fearful, and just straight up scared about how to provide food for their families, pay their bills, sustain their businesses, bring some normalcy to life, be with loved ones in distant cities, protect loved ones—and just stay alive. These are feelings and emotions that no one is immune to regardless of religion, race, gender, or socio/economic status. The degree or severity of concern may waver, but no one is exempt from the pending overall outcome of this deadly virus.

COVID-19 affects us all, and we must rally together, working collectively to mitigate and eventually eradicate its stinging tentacles of devastation. We must all understand that the virus is new. We as a civilized, medically technical world weren’t prepared for dealing with this villain; therefore, there is a lot of information we just don’t have about the virus. We are literally learning as we go, especially in formulating a vaccine that will protect us against this contagious disease.

At this point, noted scientists, doctors, and experts are suggesting and offering precautions or protocols to keep this virus from spreading, affecting or killing thousands of people unnecessarily. The masks, social distances, washing hands, temporarily shutting down businesses, and following certain levels of protocol to reopen businesses are measures to save countless lives. We must be mindful that there are demagogues or self-serving agitators feeding into certain people’s fears that all these precautions are unnecessary and the economy should reopen immediately regardless of the cost to lives.

Everyone is unanimous in wanting the economy to reopen. But regardless of one’s dire personal circumstances, the safety and lives of the general public must be prioritized. While people’s financial positions are threatened, at least they are alive. We live in a country where no one is going to sit by and watch someone starve to death.

Unfortunately there are those who feel their personal circumstances supersede whatever happens to others in general. They are possibly fueled by desperation, fear, hopelessness, or just plain selfishness and apathy. They may feel their non-adherence to self-imposed or regulated restrictions are justified. Some irate employers or employees will argue and protest that it is against their constitutional rights to be sequestered by city, state, or federal forces—especially in being forced to temporarily close their business or not be allowed to work.

Once again, unequivocally, no one asked for this virus or wanted the economy to be shut down. But the reality is that this virus is real and relentless in the illnesses and death it wreaks. Those who may feel the virus personally doesn’t affect them must be cognizant that by violating established protocols, they are endangering the lives of others, especially their elders. Although most of us are bored and literally going bonkers from being pent up during the quarantines, we must not let that be the defining reason to reopen the economy when so many lives are at stake.

Elderly people (60 or above) are at a disadvantage when it comes to the mortality rate brought about from this virus. But the African American community (especially those with pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma) is disproportionately affected with the highest mortality rate. So it would be understandable out of respect for your elderly and fellow brothers and sisters that one would follow prescribed cautionary protocols.

Sadly, you shouldn’t need a member of your beloved family to suffer or die from the virus for you to understand the severity in dealing with this deadly foe. If only from a humanitarian perspective, respect the safety and lives of others until we are able to control this deadly menace.

We can conclude that deliverance from this pandemic may not be coming fast enough for anyone, but we will get through this dark time in our history. The economy will eventually bounce back, given time. While emotions are running high, this is a time to keep hope alive, fortify one’s faith, and do what we do best as citizens—helping those we can.