COVID-19 persists; trauma remains

March 16 marks one year since the beginning of the school shutdowns in Illinois, and one cannot simply walk away from the death the world has faced in the past year.

COVID-19 is not over. It will never be “over” fully. 

The world and a large portion of the United States will continue to carry the trauma this year brought about – and the question that remains is how the country’s path to recovery will be paved.

The pain from lost loved ones, facing the virus oneself, working from home, going to school from home, losing a job, and coping with the intense weight of being an essential worker throughout the past year will not just go away overnight.

And despite the opening of many schools, transitions to hybrid learning, and increased vaccine rollout across the U.S., COVID-19 is not gone. 

Upwards of fifty-thousand people still contract COVID-19 daily in the U.S., and the country still faces over one thousand deaths per day. 

And though it has been a year since schools in Illinois transitioned to e-learning, the pandemic is not over.

As much as one wishes to be hopeful as more and more people receive the vaccine, heard immunity may still yet be months away. 

As hard as it is to continue living in a world with small gatherings, masks, and social distancing over a year after the pandemic began in the U.S., one still must protect their fellow man.

The U.S. cannot walk away from what has been learned from COVID-19.

Maybe this moment in history has something to do with human kindness. Maybe a lack of it. 

Supposedly heartwarming stories of people taking up an extra job to help out a neighbor, teachers and principals taking an extra job to help teachers buy supplies, and others just seem to be an overwhelming failure of the government to support vulnerable communities and citizens during this time.

So perhaps the layman was forced to be stronger, forced into roles to keep their family going, and ultimately, chose kindness for their fellow man.

But the failure of the few in government to provide lasting support still drags down communities. 

Why else does the U.S. have four percent of the population but 20% of all COVID-19 deaths?

At this point in time, one can only hope their fellow man continues to choose kindness and safety over ignoring public health guidelines and forgetting COVID-19 is still out there.

The real determinant of recovery from this world-wide tragedy will be what leaders across the globe – and the U.S. – chose to do with this immense trauma.

Will the country be better for it in the end? Perhaps only time, politics, and human kindness can tell.

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