As someone working during the pandemic, I have had to remind countless amounts of people of social distance and wear their masks for the safety of others. People are tired of the pandemic, but we have to continue to be safe for it to end. According to the Dupage County Health Organization COVID-19, cases are at an all-time high. Over 400 cases were reported in the county on Nov. 17, compared to the 12 cases that were reported on March 21, the first day of lockdown.
Whether it be seeing older family members suffer from the virus, losing a job, or even having to hear people say their goodbyes over FaceTime, this pandemic has been anything but light-hearted. My family, along with thousands of others, has been deeply affected by the pandemic.
Many people came out of the initial lockdown and took it for granted. They partied, began to travel again, or they became a little more lenient on how they wear their mask. I will admit that I had my faults and did not take it as seriously as I should have when we first left lockdown, but since then I have educated myself as my family has lost their jobs and been diagnosed with COVID-19. I have talked to family friends who work at hospitals. I have listened to other people’s experiences with the virus. Most importantly, I looked at the statistics being handed to me and connected them to those experiences.
What made this second wave real for me was seeing my great-grandma at her nursing home. At that window visit, I watched the single most powerful woman I know struggle to hold her phone to her ear as she told us that she had not been hugged since February and how she hoped that this would all be over soon. Even having witnessed the same story, other members of my family continue to downplay the severity of the virus. They say that it is a “hoax” and that “our immune systems need to be exposed to it and fight it off naturally.” After nearly losing my great-grandmother to COVID-19, I can no longer dismiss their actions.
I am angry. My biggest worry right now should be which scholarship to apply to next, not what to do if another family member contracts COVID-19 or if my job will still be open the next day. Us teenagers need to take action. We can find ways to make sure that we are not part of the problem. Small changes, such as limiting gatherings and wearing masks when you are not with your immediate family, can help this second wave end sooner. The most important thing is to make sure you treat any type of symptoms you have like it may be COVID-19. Getting tested or quarantining for 14 days will always be safer than assuming that it is “just a cold.”
Some people will never take the pandemic seriously. As different companies announce a vaccine, people are becoming less worried about the outcome of the cases being announced right now. We have to remember that it is not over yet. People are still going to suffer and even die in the time that it takes to release the vaccine. We can limit that suffering if we keep up with the guidelines that have been put in place to keep us and others safe.