Covid-19 Crisis Far From Over – Rogan Smith
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Covid-19 Crisis Far From Over

Illustration of Covid-19 virus

Every time I see large numbers of Bahamians gathered in one spot not social distancing and not wearing a mask, I have one single thought: thank God it’s Covid-19 and not Ebola.

Oh, speaking of Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued new travel warnings for the virus after a man in Africa developed symptoms after being vaccinated. 

According to ABC News, that man recovered, but relapsed six months later. His infection led to 91 new cases.

A virus expert from Nebraska said the man in question either never developed immunity or lost it within six months. Yikes. 

That’s a sobering and scary thought, considering that the world is in the middle of a massive vaccination exercise. 

Last week, doctors told CNN that the coronavirus might end up like influenza (the flu), which requires annual vaccines to prevent infections. 

Medical experts say it takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity against the virus. So, it’s still possible to become infected after being vaccinated. 

And for those who have not been vaccinated at all, the risk is even higher. Yet, that didn’t stop residents from heading out to beaches in large numbers last week. 

While I certainly understand that many residents have Covid-19 fatigue and want to get outdoors and do normal things, they should always keep in mind that this crisis is not over. In California, doctors just discovered a new variant of the virus – a double mutation. 

People are still contracting this virus, getting sick and dying. 

Image of a white face mask against a plain blue background
Photo by Anna Shvets for Pexels.

Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has killed 188 people in The Bahamas alone. Worldwide, there have been 2.8 million deaths.

At this point, there are many variables that we still don’t know or understand. They will all reveal themselves in time. 

Ignorance Vs. Stupidity

I can excuse ignorance. Stupidity, I cannot excuse. 

If I board a plane without knowing there’s a problem with the engines and it crashes. I can claim ignorance because I didn’t know. But, if I board a plane knowing full well that there’s a problem with the engines and there’s a high chance it will crash and I choose to get on board anyway, well, I’m just stupid. 

COVID-19 is the plane. In the beginning, when very little was known about this virus, how it was transmitted, what symptoms to look out for and who would get it, we could claim ignorance. But, we are now more than a year into this pandemic. People are aware of what it takes to reduce transmission and yet they’re choosing to ignore advice and warnings. That’s stupid. 

They are deliberately making a conscious decision to ignore facts. 

On social media, I have read comments from individuals who say they are “tired of wearing masks” so they have stopped. These are the people who choose to play Russian roulette with their lives.

What’s worse is that so many people who are keen on ignoring social distancing guidelines are uninsured. 

Many of them have less than $1,000 in their bank accounts right now. I would go a step further and say some of them could not scrap together $300 if they had to go to the hospital today. Yet, they put their health – and their family’s health – in danger all in a bid to have a good time.

I don’t know about you, but being hooked up to a breathing machine just doesn’t appeal to me. And I know too many people who have died from this virus to not take it seriously.

The Spread of Misinformation

I used to believe that if you educated people enough, that if you kept the proper messaging in their face day after day, they would eventually come around.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way how wrong I was. There are people in the world who are committed to misunderstanding even when you answer all of their questions or counter their conspiracy theories with cold hard facts.

Social media is a wonderful tool for sharing information. Sadly, it’s also a cesspool where misinformation is birthed and allowed to give birth to multiple ugly untruths.  

This COVID-19 vaccine is not without its faults. I highlighted some of them in my last column. But, when I hear people speculating rather than presenting facts, it frustrates me. 

On Facebook, one woman recently claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine gives you AIDS. And as I scrolled through the comments waiting for one person to counter her asinine assertion, I found none. She presented no evidence at all. Just one silly thought that caught fire. And boy did it spread.

A former colleague of mine once said, “social media makes experts out of idiots.” I understood that then and even more so now. 

A Lack Of Enforcement

I have said before in this column, we do not enforce many things in The Bahamas. We are weak on enforcement

Last week, police cited several beach goers on Cabbage Beach for various infractions, like not wearing their masks. The Tribune asked Police Commissioner, Paul Rolle if police were stationed at the beach. Clearly they were not, as he noted that they had to be called to Cabbage Beach. 

That alone makes me wonder what police discuss during their meetings. Because clearly there was no action plan to station officers at beaches. We know Bahamians are going to go to the beach. We know there will be people who disobey the rules. So, why not prepare for that?

Obviously, police cannot be stationed at every beach. But, they should have a plan to go to the spots where there is likely to be a large crowd presence.

Police play a significant role in containing the spread of the virus. They are designated law enforcers. So, they need to do their jobs. 

Bahamians need to know that this virus is far from gone and this battle is far from over. We need to start acting like it.

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