USA Today, by Suzette Hackney: One year ago, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials warned that the coronavirus outbreak was heading toward pandemic status. In the weeks that followed, we scrambled to shut down businesses and close schools, believing we could slow the spread.
Today, more than 500,000 Americans are dead.
There is plenty of blame to go around, particularly aimed at the previous administration’s monumental fumbling of this public health emergency. But that’s not the conversation I want to have right now. Today we mourn. Today we grieve with the families who have had to say goodbye to their loved ones — parents, grandparents, spouses, aunts and uncles, siblings, sons and daughters.
The loss of half a million people is devastating. It is heartbreaking. The toll — both literally and figuratively — will be felt for decades. And though we have hope in vaccines and a steady decline in new COVID-19 cases, this emotional milestone reminds us that every statistic is a person and a slice of a community.
“People decades from now are going to be talking about this as a terribly historic milestone in the history of this country, to have these many people to have died from a respiratory-borne infection,” Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said on CNN Sunday.
I’ve read story after story about those who have died, how their families were unable to see them or had to say a final “I love you” via video chat. I’ve watched more cable news than is likely healthy, taking in the chaotic scenes at overburdened hospitals nationwide. While depressing, I think it’s important to feel the loss. The numbers are so overwhelming we could easily become numb to their significance. We can’t allow that to happen.
President Joe Biden held a White House address Monday evening, followed by a moment of silence and a candle lighting ceremony. He also ordered flags on federal buildings and properties be lowered to half-staff for the next five days to mark the surpassing of 500,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.
I can’t believe we’re here. I hate that we are here. Yet there are those who still refuse to believe COVID-19 is real or are unwilling to take measures to control the virus. Open your eyes. Show some compassion. We all know someone who has been affected by coronavirus, someone who has been seriously ill or is mourning a loss.
We have nearly lost more Americans than during World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined. The numbers are almost too large to grasp. And unfortunately more people will die from COVID-19. The best way to honor them and their families is to continue — or start — to wear masks and socially distance.
With grief comes resolve. Let’s never forget this moment.
“My attention was then called from the scene. There seemed to be a little time of peace. Once more the inhabitants of the earth were presented before me; and again everything was in the utmost confusion. Strife, war, and bloodshed, with famine and pestilence, raged everywhere. Other nations were engaged in this war and confusion. War caused famine. Want and bloodshed caused pestilence. And then men’s hearts failed them for fear, “and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 1, page 268.2.