NELDON: Your actions impact the health of others

Seven months into the pandemic, we are all tired of hearing phrases used so often they are practically cliches.

“Keep your social distance.” “We’re all in this together.” We can get through these “unprecedented times.” “Mask up!” “Flatten the curve.”

Unfortunately, no matter how tired we grow of this pandemic, it seems a good portion of us have a difficult time doing our part to end it.

In the beginning, everything was new — that’s what the “novel” in “novel coronavirus” means. We stayed inside, closed down businesses, kept away from one another and prayed we all stayed healthy in an attempt to curb the spread of a deadly virus we knew hardly anything about.

Though the situation continues to change, we have learned a lot in these seven months. Perhaps the biggest lesson of this pandemic has been that our actions not only impact our own health, but everyone around us — friend, family or stranger.

Seven months in, we know we should wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap and water as frequently as we can. Many of us are hyper aware of what surfaces we touch, who may have touched them before and who will touch them after us.

Scientists have performed countless tests on respiratory droplets to learn how far the droplets spread when we laugh, talk, sing and cough (roughly 6 feet), and proven that wearing masks lowers the spread of the virus significantly. Common sense has proven that wearing them over your mouth AND your nose makes them even more effective.

We have also deduced that in large gatherings where social distancing is not enforced or where masks are not worn, the probability of someone — or multiple people — contracting COVID-19 is higher. Logic says that the more people you have in one space, the higher the odds that someone will have and share the virus.

These are facts we have heard on a loop for seven months. Unfortunately, many have mistaken the reopening of the economy and lifting of various restrictions to mean that the pandemic is over and we can all return to business as usual. However, the loosened restrictions come with caveats (and the loop repeats): masks must be worn, social distancing must be enforced, hands must be washed.

I understand how good it feels to get a taste of “normal,” but we must realize that our actions have consequences on people other than ourselves.

As cases have climbed in volumes over the last few weeks in Cass County, lawmakers and health department officials have traced outbreaks back to lack of social distancing at large gatherings and lack of proper mask wearing.

If we ever want the loop to stop repeating — and more importantly, if we want to end this pandemic once and for all — we must do our part.

Americans are blessed to live in a democracy with more freedoms than many other countries, and that is undoubtedly something to celebrate. My favorite of these freedoms, the right to life, says that as an American, I have the right to live — without anyone taking my life away from me. Anti-maskers and pandemic disbelievers, by refusing to wear masks and social distance, are impeding on others’ right to life, breaking the very freedoms they use to defend their stance.

No matter how you look at it, this pandemic is real, and it continues to kill people every day.

If we ever want the madness to end, and truly get back to “normal,” we must all do our part — if not for ourselves, then for the people around us.

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