As we approach the eight-month anniversary of the first reported coronavirus case in America, the country surpasses the 200,000 mark of COVID-19 related deaths.
It will forever mark a tragic day in history and make us look back and think about what we could have done differently.
Although many believed America should have been the forerunners in stopping the novel coronavirus in its tracks, it is unsurprising to me that we have done just the opposite.
We pride ourselves on liberty and freedom but never take into account that the same sentiments are held by those we disagree with.
In the case of stopping a deadly virus, freedom and liberty cannot have a seat at the table.
In the most valuable window of time when we as a nation had the power to exponentially slow the spread of COVID-19, our president was instead downplaying the pandemic and telling Americans to ingest bleach as a means to fight it off.
Back in early March, when I first heard about COVID-19 it was a passing thought.
I believed that it wouldn’t effect me and honestly I had a lack of empathy for the countries that it was effecting because I viewed it as an issue for those on the opposite side of the world.
This was obviously wrong, but it boils down to American culture. We are taught from a young age that we are the best country in the world and in other words, better than all other countries. This is absolutely not true and this event has burst this bubble for many as of lately.
If America is the greatest country in the world then why are we leading the world in COVID-19 deaths? Deaths, not cases. It would be one thing if we were leading in cases, but COVID-19 has become the third leading cause of death in the country.
My beliefs early on that this virus would not change my everyday life were also shared by the majority of Americans when first hearing about the virus.
We soon found out that the virus does not discriminate against any color, creed or nationality. Our stars and stripes don’t protect us anymore than anyone else.
This virus has showed Americans that we are no better or worse than our neighbors. This pandemics has evened the playing field and reminded us that we are the same.
America is not the end all be all and it sure as hell isn’t the best country in the world.
We’re supposed to be leaders in medicine and technology, but this event has made me question everything. What good is throwing that title around when we still let 200,000 people die on our watch?
In these past months, the world has slowly become a brand new place. Americans are beginning to see first hand just how not great America is.
Our leaders are anything but that and the country is more divided than it has been for decades.
Our country’s savior complex and deeply rooted colonialism are finally being challenged. Right now, the only thing we’re “winning” at is having the most COVID-19 deaths, but at least we’re still number one, right?
We try to “save” everyone else and never stopped to fill all the cracks in our own foundation.
Who is there to “save” America when we have the highest rate of the virus? And who would want to?
I had no idea that in eight months time one virus would claim nearly 100 times many Americans that were lost in 9/11.
This isn’t to minimize the 2,977 American lives lost in 9/11, but it is important to put it in perspective.
We commemorate the senseless deaths of the nearly 3,000 people lost in that terrorist attack but still go to brunch and continue to party in today’s climate.
The 200,000 deaths since March were also senseless and the lack of action on behalf of our state and national government should be considered domestic terrorism as well.
Unfortunately, the 200,000 COVID-19 deaths and two million cases are just the tip of the iceberg.
Scientists have projected that there will be a second wave and there is a possibility that it will be even worse than the first wave.
Although the cases continue to grow, Americans have tried to adapt the new normal to their lives instead of the other way around. There is nothing normal about having to live with a deadly virus.
This virus already has such great momentum that the future of when everything will go back to normal is unknown.
Moving forward all that we can do is not lose sight that there is still a pandemic ravaging through countries across the globe.
As of lately, many have let their guard down because there has been a slight dip in cases, but it is obviously too early to do so–and this is why.
March 16, the day we were told to not return to campus, there were 872 new cases in the US that day, but on Sept. 22, there were 48,206 new cases.
All the terror and uncertainty was at a high when the first cases began to pop up and spread, but we are now in a whole new ball game.
We should still be discouraging non-social distant activities. It is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than it was when the first few cases started to pop up.
The sooner Americans realize that they are not immune or invincible, the sooner we will be able to get back to a sliver of normalcy.
It has been a long road, but an even longer road is ahead of us if we do not make the necessary changes now.
The changes necessary are not just behavioral changes, but also in our beliefs.
Although freedom and liberty are integral to the patchwork of America, we must see the forest from the trees.
We have to make sacrifices and allow for some of our freedom to be taken away in the name of the greater good.