Column: COVID-19 still a threat as protests continue

Ryan Meyer

It feels strange continuing to write about the coronavirus in a time where the pandemic has taken a backseat in the news to protests over the recent deaths of George Floyd and many African Americans before him at the hands of police. But last week I wrote an emotionally charged column, titled “Minecraft and long-distance relationships in the age of COVID-19,” that left a lot unsaid.

As of June 1, there have been 1,787,680 cases in the United States and 104,396 deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Illinois is accountable for 120,260 of those cases, nearly seven percent of the nation’s total. Not to mention the state’s 5,390 deaths.

It may seem obvious, but “if I get it, I get it,” is not a logical excuse for going about life as though the situation is normal. One may be flippant about being infected, but would they be so carefree if they transmitted it to their grandmother or young children? Even those who are taking the necessary precautions are being affected by community spread, which the CDC defines as “people (who) have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.”

Those being safe and following the recommended measures do not deserve to be put at risk by those who aren’t. No one deserves to be put at risk, frankly.

I’ve seen a few videos of people saying “it’s just like the flu, right? People die from the flu every year.” This is true, but there’s also a vaccine for the flu. There is no vaccine for the coronavirus as of now. The only treatment to this deadly virus is to stay inside as much as possible and social distance when outside.

From my point of view, it seems as though people of all ages have just decided that quarantine is over, and it’s time to go back to their regular lives. Yes, many states have reopened in some capacity, but that isn’t for our leisure. This act is “trying to restart economies battered by the novel coronavirus pandemic,” according to a Washington Post article entitled “Where states are reopening after America’s shutdown.” In the same article, infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci is quoted as saying, “There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control, leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided.”

It’s inarguable that there is a huge problem with police brutality against African Americans in our country. The protests are necessary, but they present a challenge in a nationwide pandemic. Yes, the protestors’ voices need to be heard, and their demands need to be satisfied. But at the same time, we wrestle with how close everyone is standing together and how easily the virus could spread among them. Thankfully, in much of the footage people seem to be wearing masks. Protestors, please be aware of the dangers of the coronavirus as you work towards a result that should’ve been reached long, long ago. No one wants to see more people perish, in any way.


Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]