Many people are getting sick and dying in America. We’ve been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other country in the world. Some states have issued a “massive fatality warning.” We are living in a moment of time where you can’t be too careful, and sadly some people still aren’t being careful at all.
The good news is we have vaccines. But just because we finally have them doesn’t mean this is over. It will take a few months to get the shots to the many who need them and will accept them. And we will all still need to be careful, because at this moment we really don’t know how long the immunity will last. There are still so many unanswered questions, but the safety of these vaccines isn’t one of them—at least not for me. I have no doubt that the vaccines are safe and I’ve gotten mine.
If this virus becomes an annual thing, I fear for the normality we all seek. Going out for dinner and a movie may not be something we see ourselves doing the way we used to, ever again. Many restaurants and small business have already closed, and many people are out of work. More businesses will be in trouble as the economy worsens and as more people spend less — it’s easy to see the vicious circle.
One day we will be able to travel safely again. But worldwide, it may be a long time before you will be able to get on an airplane or enter most foreign countries without showing proof of a recent vaccination along with your ID.
There are signs of hope. Many people who were once cavalier about COVID-19 are becoming less so. Recent surveys also show that about 80 percent of the public are willing to take the vaccine injections; it will just be a while before we get to everyone, and so COVID-fatigue will remain a part of our lives for a while longer.
This means that wearing a mask, keeping your distance, and washing your hands remain the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones, even after your vaccinations. I know it’s been hard, but if we just hang in there, and follow the science, all of this will go away eventually or at least be under control.
How did this happen to us? Many Americans would not accept staying at home, and we continue to suffer as a result. Greater cooperation could have saved many lives. South Korea has had fewer deaths from COVID-19 because they all worked together, stayed home, got tested, and followed the protocols. Our rugged individualism has been fatal, and although there are still plenty of outward deniers, I believe that everyone who has a brain is scared on some level.
When the whole country and much of the world is living in fear and uncertainty, that vibe gets picked up by the rest of us, and we take it in on an unconscious level. It has the effect of keeping us off-balance. This means that we have to work a little harder at life, just to remain stable. That’s OK, considering the circumstances. I, for one, am willing to sacrifice today in order to have a tomorrow. And as more people feel that way, and take precautions, the big picture will improve.
If as a society, we can learn to take better care of each other, our lives will be much fuller and safer. This global tragedy can bring us closer together if we want that, or it can also keep us apart. The choice is ours, and I hope we make the right one.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.)
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