By now, we're all used to seeing the daily news updates about COVID-19. Tune into any news station or turn on your phone and you will most likely find a new headline regarding some aspect of the pandemic. Whether you are reading about a new CDC guideline, looking over graphs of the newest statistics, or viewing footage of yet another stay-at-home order protest, it is inevitable that you are seeing the drastic effects this pandemic has on our society daily.
Although the number of cases in the United States continues to grow, some places have deemed it safe to slowly begin opening their cities and states. While many people are doing their part to still follow proper social distancing guidelines and only go out in public when absolutely necessary, there are many people who aren't.
The circumstances for every area of the country are different. If the numbers are declining, then maybe it is safe to lift some of the restrictions, but this must be done so in a way that won't give people a false sense of security. We need to realize that just because things are open doesn't mean we can immediately return to "normal."
There are still places in the United States where community members are required to wear masks when they go out in public. Other places are extending their stay-at-home orders. This is causing confusion for many, as some people live in areas where "non-essential" business has resumed, while people in other areas are still being told to stay home unless absolutely necessary.
For those of us who live in areas where business has resumed, it is imperative that we live with integrity and hold ourselves accountable by continuing to follow stay-at-home orders even after they have been lifted. There is still so much we don't know about the virus, and by socially distancing ourselves, we can protect ourselves and others while simultaneously buying time for hospital staff and researchers.
Viruses are complicated, and right now, with no vaccine and no good system of finding all of those who are infected but asymptomatic, the most selfless and kind thing we can do right now is continue to stay home.
Stay at home out of respect for at-risk retail and food service workers.
Stay at home for the overwhelmed, exhausted hospital staff.
Show that you care about the world around you by acting as if you could be a carrier — because you very easily could be.
If we, as humans, want to survive this without seeing a second wave with more deaths, we need to take action now. This pandemic is bad, but it could be much worse. Let's stop it in its tracks. By staying at home and taking the necessary precautions, such as wearing a mask when you absolutely need to go out, you can prove that you care about others just as much as you care about yourself.
Cut your own hair in support of your grandparents' health. Skip the meetup and FaceTime your friends instead to show your support for those who are high-risk. Go through a drive-thru rather than dining in to show your support for all of humanity. Your life is no more valuable than anyone else's.
This virus does not discriminate and could easily affect you or someone you love. Practice empathy by considering those who have already lost a loved one. Treat the whole world like they are your family and you need to protect them, and encourage others to do the same for you.
Someday, when the virus is over, do you want to be the hero who valued the lives of others enough to stay home for a few extra weeks, or do you want to come out of this appearing selfish, having potentially changed someone's life forever?