Jamala Rogers Headshot

Jamala Rogers

The United States has hit a dreadful milestone in the pandemic. More than one million COVID deaths. One. Million. Lives.

Those numbers are disturbing enough. Did enough people take the time to reflect on how the nation got here so we can glean some lessons from this human catastrophe?

There was a time when the virus dominated the news. COVID reports have faded from the media headlines unless it’s a celebrity. Sadly, it is because of these never-ending  numbers that the public has become numb to their multi-dimensional meanings.

There are real-life distractions that have our attention. The war in Ukraine that is sucking up billions of taxpayer’s dollars. There’s inflation which has already eaten into the increase in salaries we fought so hard for. A woman’s right to control her body and her life is being threatened.

There’s a baby-formula shortage and some act like there’s no natural alternative. There’s skyrocketing debt in student loans and medical bills. Public schools are struggling to recuperate from remote learning. There’s the dysfunctional Congress. Midterm elections were scary.

The anniversary of the police murder of George Floyd served as a reminder of the state terrorism of Black and brown people. There are the random mass shootings of innocent people by gunmen motivated by hate of themselves or the-other, or both. Two rocked the nation in the past few weeks.

Who will honor the one million deaths by COVID beyond the loved ones left behind?

Except for a half dozen states, COVID cases have increased across the county. In the last month, new cases have doubled and hospitalizations are on the rise. Now that people can do their own home testing for the virus, it is believed that many positives will go uncounted. The actual infection rates are probably much higher than those being reported.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 82 million people have been infected with the coronavirus. I have worked hard not to be a statistic. The growing infection and death numbers mean that I am still on my crusade to educate people on how they can guard themselves against the virus. I am still persuading people that we all have an obligation beyond our nuclear families to aid in our communities being safe. We have what we need to bring this monster down but we don’t possess the political will.

As a Black woman who knows the dangers, I wear my mask everywhere, regardless of the mask mandate yo-yos. Many times, I’m one of few people wearing a mask prompting looks like I’m the weirdo. This doesn’t bother me one bit because it’s all about not becoming a COVID casualty.

Every aspect of our lives has been touched by the coronavirus. We are experiencing the financial, social and psychological fallout from the pandemic in real time, and the effects will linger for generations to come. Future generations will be asking why we were so resistant to information and treatment, why we allowed so many senseless deaths to occur. The answers will be inadequate. The national shame will be short-lived.

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