Americans united and sacrificed during World War I and World War II not only by going to war across the oceans as a soldier, medic, nurse or cook, but in so many others ways right here in the United States.
- People ate less meat and processed food so it could be shipped to those serving abroad.
- They used less oil and gasoline so it could be used in planes and tanks.
- Scrap drives helped collect garden hoses, tires, rubber and metal for the war effort.
- Women who were homemakers went to work in manufacturing, shipping and office jobs.
- School children in Chicago purchased $263k in War Bonds, to help fund two planes and 26 tanks.
- And of course, too many Americans made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives or suffered severe debilitating wounds.
However, when it came to protecting our collective freedom and safety, Americans unified and sacrificed. Millions, never trained as soldiers, did what they could for the common good. We were on the same team.
Since early 2020, we have been in a different type of war. Against an invisible enemy. But just as deadly. COVID-19 has killed 625,375 Americans to date, nearly approaching the total number of Americans who died in the six wars since World War I in 1917. And it has harmed millions of others, either with severe symptoms or unknown long-term effects on the lungs, heart and other critical organs.
We are divided about not only how to eradicate COVID-19, but the absolute facts about how it has been and can be mitigated. In some extreme cases, some don’t even believe that COVID-19 even exists.
Divided despite having an innovative weapon against the virus that is more than 95% effective at snuffing out severe symptoms that require hospitalization and cause death. Scientists, researchers and doctors who have been collaborating for decades to come up with vaccines that could work against these types of viruses, worked at miraculous speed to give us highly-effective options to not only protect us against severe symptoms and death, but stop the virus from mutating into variants these vaccines may not be able to stop.
Yet a significant number in our country haven’t taken the vaccine despite the fact that 99% of those in over-capacity hospitals are unvaccinated. Some in the vaccine-resistant segment also are fighting wearing masks again to protect their “individual freedoms.” If people don’t want to take the vaccine because of medical reasons or fear it hasn’t been used long enough, so be it. With the FDA approving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine beyond just the emergency approval it gave last December, that should ally those fears. Especially if those same people took other vaccines that were approved by the FDA for small pox, measles and flu without hesitation, their motivations are questionable.
Individual freedoms stop at the point they infringe on other’s safety and well-being. That’s why we have laws prohibiting individuals from:
- Smoking indoors at public places
- Driving under the influence
- Exceeding speed limits
- Texting and driving
- Not wearing seat belts
- Shooting off fireworks in dry regions
- A restaurant worker can’t say s/he doesn’t feel like washing their hands that day.
- A phlebologist can’t decide it’s too much trouble to use a sterile needle to draw blood for labs.
- A doctor or nurse can’t decide they can breathe easier without a mask while they are doing surgery and the hell with it if they cough or sneeze into the incision.
They don’t care about the fatigued health care workers who are being asked to go above and beyond yet again in overcrowded hospitals. They don’t care about elderly and the immuno-compromised who still are at some risk despite being vaccinated. They don’t care about the children under 12 who have yet to be vaccinated. They don’t care about keeping our businesses wide open and economy buzzing because if the Delta variant mutates and turns into a variant our current vaccines don’t have efficacy against, we will have to close businesses, schools, sports, concerts and other public events again.
Some of the resistance to the vaccine is because of the 30-year diatribe against the “Four Corners of Deceit” the late Rush Limbaugh espoused when he said don’t trust science, government, academia and the media. Many advance those same beliefs, including current politicians. That’s why we have Governor Rob DeSantis of Florida fighting mask mandates despite hospitals in Florida so over capacity with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients that people have to go to other states to get treatment.
The irony is that scientists and academia researched and developed this set of vaccines and they have worked wonderfully. It’s the highly educated doctors and nurses from academic institutions around the world that the largely unvaccinated flock to get help breathing and to survive the Delta variant. It’s the government – vaccine development led by the Trump administration and distribution led by the Biden administration – that got the vaccines to the people to open the country again and bring some semblance of normalcy.
Normalcy that is on the cusp of disappearing. Freedoms along with it. I urge those who have and continue to look at the facts to share them with those who are willing to listen. I respect the choice of those who don’t want to get the vaccine because of medical reasons. But for those who are not getting vaccinated or fight wearing a mask to protect their individual freedom, there will be even fewer individual freedoms without collective freedom.
So let’s make the relatively very small sacrifices – compared to those made during the World War I and World War II - for our collective freedom. We’re on the same team.