It is finally beginning to feel like summer outside. But the weather is the only thing about summer that is starting to feel normal.
Many people around the world are still isolating at home, only going out infrequently and carefully. But some people seem so desperate to enjoy their summers after several months of maddening quarantine that they are trying to make things normal before we are ready to do so.
Footage of a giant party at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks seemed to encapsulate this attitude. But the reality is that we are not ready for summer and all of the activities that come with it.
Total COVID-19 deaths in America are nearing 100,000. This number is staggering, and to put it in context on Memorial Day, it is more deaths than American forces suffered in the Korean War, Vietnam War and Iraq War combined.
Yet the Memorial Day weekend saw millions of Americans putting themselves and others needlessly at risk, not only at the Lake of the Ozarks, but at the boardwalk and beaches of Ocean City, Maryland, and other beaches all across the country.
It is clear that many Americans are tired of the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders that have become commonplace over the last three months, but this is not the way to vent that frustration.
It will lead to more cases, more deaths and perhaps extensions of the orders that people sought to defy in the first place. The nearly 100,000 deaths have occurred despite the quarantine, and it is frightening to imagine what the numbers would be if we never quarantined at all.
Breaking the quarantine too soon could also prove disastrous. This could have been the summer where everything returned to normal. If all Americans had followed rules and if the government had acted sooner, the COVID-19 pandemic could have been all but defeated by now and we could all celebrate.
If we truly want things to return to normal, we need widespread and easily-available testing, which we incredibly do not have in this country. It is something that should have been in place months ago.
Another step we can take is as simple as wearing a mask in public. No one likes wearing the masks, but they are a requirement in much of the country now. In many places it may not seem like they are required.
Here in Charleston, if you went to Walmart you may not think there is a pandemic at all with the amazing numbers of exposed noses and mouth and the people crowding next to each other in the aisles.
Unfortunately, because of how COVID-19 has been handled in America, this summer will not be normal. But if we do not take it seriously, this summer could be catastrophic.
The entire country seems to be hurdling toward reopening and returning to normal. The economy is in shambles and people want to have some summer fun. But a trip to the beach is not worth the risks.
If we are not careful, 100,000 deaths could only be the beginning.