Here we are, in the final weeks of 2020. I am sure when everyone was making their goals and resolutions for this year, they didn’t plan for a global pandemic and for a face mask to become their newest accessory. By now, I would be surprised if there is a single person who didn’t know at least one individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. I personally know a few people that have tested positive, myself included, and I also know of distant relatives that have unfortunately passed away after contracting the virus too. Those who have passed were elderly and had previous health conditions and those that I know who have tested positive for the virus have since recovered but some now have various long-lasting side effects. I am very thankful that my experience with COVID was extremely mild and easily managed while I was able to work from home. But that is not always the case for everyone as this virus affects everyone differently. 

 When we transitioned into the fall season the number of cases began to increase at an alarming rate. More people are testing positive and hospitals are filling up again just like they did when the pandemic first began. Like myself, you may think that you have a strong healthy immune system and rarely get sick but based on personal experience that does not matter. NO ONE IS IMMUNE. It has been said that once you have recovered from COVID you gain natural immunity from it for a window of time but that is not something that is truly factual as the virus has not even been around for a full year yet and we are still learning more about it every day. One should never assume that they are immune to the virus even if they had a severe case and made a full recovery without issue; no one knows yet if natural immunity will actually protect you or for how long. Whether immunity stems from exposure to the virus or from a vaccine, experts speculate it may still only be temporary which would most likely means that one would need a yearly booster shot, much like the flu shot, to maintain enough antibodies to provide continuous protection against the virus.

I think everyone needs to be reminded that this virus is not a hoax and people are testing positive every day, healthy or not, and are having long-lasting side effects from it and countless lives are still being lost. Healthcare and essential workers are not immune either and are risking their lives every day while exhausted and burnt out.  Even more so, they are beyond frustrated because we are not making their jobs any easier when everyone is not abiding by the CDC guidelines. We should be doing everything in our power to prevent the numbers from continuing to rise. Staying at home, thoroughly washing your hands, social distancing and wearing a mask are the easiest ways to keep you, your loved ones and the people around you safe. 

We all need to continuously think about the big picture until we are able to keep this nasty virus at bay. Thankfully, there is word that at least two vaccines will be authorized soon in the United States before year-end and it is believed to have an extremely high immunity rate but must be followed with booster shots. Even still, there will not be enough doses of the vaccine for everyone to receive it at once so the first batch of doses must be prioritized to health care personnel, essential workers, those with underlying medical conditions, and the elderly. Hopefully, in the coming months, more people will have access to the vaccine and the numbers begin to decrease naturally, but it is still up to each individual to help flatten the curve. 

Those that continuously go out to large gatherings without wearing a mask are not team players and do not care about how their actions can affect, or should I say infect, others. Even if you think you have a small circle, remember, especially this holiday season, that every individual has their own circle as well so there is always going to be that risk that the virus gets passed off to someone who has a low immune system and can potentially become fatal. Until everyone has access to a vaccine we need to take protective measures and abide by the CDC guidelines so that we can keep our loved ones safe.  

Written by Alyssa A. Blando

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