I Will Never Regret Taking COVID-19 Seriously
I want you to try an exercise. Close your eyes and conjure a time when you took your child to the pediatrician for what you thought will be a run-of-the-mill sick visit. Kids get sick, we take them in, we go home, and eventually they beat the virus. In the office, the nurse takes the temp and checks the vitals. They weigh your precious runny-nosed tiny human. You explain the litany of symptoms while snuggling your sick baby on your lap. I’m sure your memories feel very routine right now.
For some of us, the routine often looks different. There may be some of you who’ve been immediately sent to the hospital because the pediatricians feel your child is far sicker than you thought or they can manage with a quick in-office visit or antibiotics.
If this has never happened to you, well you’re very lucky! I’m jealous, wholeheartedly, that you get to live in a world where you didn’t keep a go-bag at hand just in case you and your child ended up in the hospital…again. There are those of us who have that bag packed or at least quick pack it at the first signs of illness. There are those of us that it’s happened to five times, or maybe ten. Then there are those of us that if we sat down for a good eight hours, we couldn’t recall all the of times we’ve been sent to the hospital with our child.
I am one of those moms. The mom that would show up to the pediatrician again with her very ill child and the front desk would joke, “Have you moved since we saw you two days ago?” I’d smile, maybe chuckle, to hide the anxious bile rising in my esophagus, trying to look calm and collected. Although, I was likely fooling no one. Those moments always leave me exhausted and ragged looking.
As news coverage about some mysterious respiratory virus across the globe began to trickle through in late January, my ears immediately perked up. I have a kid with asthma. I have asthma. Whenever I hear the words contagious respiratory infection I cringe and suck in a breath, maybe trying to remind myself that we aren’t sick yet and can still breathe. Then, I brace myself, and I scour sources for as much scientific information as I can, because any facts I find will 99% of the time pertain to my family. I watched, listened, and read voraciously, hoping that it might be like other epidemics, something that faded out and the media kind of hyped but ultimately, science and humans and amazing doctors got in front of it before it destroyed millions of lives. My hopes were useless. But, my careful attention was not.
As I watch the numbers of COVID in America skyrocket and record break day after day this summer, the pit in my stomach clots and grows. Friday July 10th brought 70k new cases in the country. I feel like we hit new highs and break very devastating records every few days. Florida is now the epicenter of COVID globally. It’s also been reported that 1/3 of children tested for COVID in Florida have tested positive. In the article, Dr. Alina Alonso of Palm Beach County stated:
X-rays have revealed the virus can cause lung damage even in people without severe symptoms, she said.
“They are seeing there is damage to the lungs in these asymptomatic children. … We don’t know how that is going to manifest a year from now or two years from now,” Alonso said. “Is that child going to have chronic pulmonary problems or not?”
There is so much that is unknown about this virus. Science hasn’t had time to conduct thorough research. We didn’t see high numbers in children in the spring. There was a much needed focus on the elderly population because they were hit hard first. But we also closed down schools in spring. People stayed home. We didn’t give COVID the chance to mutate and develop a variant that might hit kids harder than initially thought. We do not know the long term implications after you catch it, but as report after report trickle in where doctors and researchers are seeing what appears to be long term effects, we should pause. We should have been taking this seriously since January. So many of us weren’t and still are not. Enough of us that it’s wreaking havoc on our country.
I can’t in good conscious be open to the idea of sending my kids back to school in what history will likely look back on as some weird beta test. A beta test that officials, local and federal, are deciding to run on children. Children. The very people that have the least say in any decision being made about their futures. The very people that can’t change things with their votes or voices…just yet. My number one job in life, before writing or communications or freelancing, is being an advocate for my children. That’s it. That’s my job.
With no national mask or social distancing mandate, vast amounts of people are choosing to live as if none of this is happening. They’re going to bars, packing in, drinking and hugging and galavanting about. People are attending beach and pool parties, simmering in their own human excretions close enough to kiss. Families are having playdates and sending their kids to summer camps where their masks are crumpled under their chins, not covering their mouths and noses. Every day, Americans are choosing to gather in large groups. No masks to be seen. None of this is secret either. They aren’t trying to be sneaky about it. We see all of it because people post it on social media like some weird desperate attempt to make their followers think life is normal and they’re carefree. When nothing about this is normal or carefree, especially for vulnerable populations. Cases are skyrocketing because of above behavior. This is causation, not correlation. The data and numbers are not lying. We’re the country with the most cases and deaths across the entire globe. A state in our country has been declared the new epicenter. Oh how far we’ve fallen since January.
I don’t feel mama bear is a strong enough term. I am a lioness who will chew through your sinew and bones to protect my kids. And right now, COVID and every COVIDIOT out there is a deadly threat to my lion cubs. In twenty years, if we are lucky enough to still be hanging on and alive, I won’t look back and be sad that I socially distanced and isolated and did my absolute best at protecting my family. I won’t regret a thing or move I made during 2020. I will rest easy knowing I did my duty as a mom, wife, and citizen of this country. I listened to facts and science and I considered how my actions would impact my own family as well as people I don’t even know. But, I will be desperately sad for those that thought this was a game or silly or infringing on their “rights” because they were too self-absorbed to consider the bigger picture.
My child isn’t the only child or human that is vulnerable right now. Millions of people are living in fear because if they catch this, it is likely a death sentence for them. And as science is discovering, many who catch this won’t receive their death sentence until years from now.
Societies are judged on how well they care for their most vulnerable populations, and right now, America, we’re failing at that.