Editorial: Pandemic isn’t over; we must do our part

A recent editorial by the Youngstown Vindicator:

As we turn the page to a new year, we all had hoped that, by now, this pandemic would have been behind us.

Clearly, it is not.

Day after day, Ohio — and other states — continue to set new records on the number of new COVID-19 cases being diagnosed. At the end of last week, before the end of 2021, more than 2 million Ohioans were diagnosed with the virus since tracking began nearly two years ago.

As of Friday, 14,458 COVID deaths were reported in 2021 among people listed as unvaccinated; 701 COVID-19 deaths were among people reported to be fully vaccinated.

Local hospital emergency rooms are jammed full of patients struggling to breathe, and often, these patients end up waiting excruciatingly long hours because facility beds are full. The Ohio Department of Health also reports in 2021, 48,399 hospitalized Ohioans were not fully vaccinated, and 2,853 fully vaccinated people were hospitalized.

Meanwhile, health care workers struggle with fatigue or exhaustion from working long hours often exacerbated by short staffing levels. It’s gotten so bad that even the Ohio National Guard has been activated to assist in Ohio’s health care facilities.

Indeed, 2021 was not a good year for so many of us due largely to COVID-19. The economy has suffered. Our children have experienced severe gaps in their learning. Many of us have been sick. And worse, each of us has lost someone we cared about to this virus — whether it was a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend or a beloved family member.

The new normal is not just lining up for vaccines and COVID-19 tests, as was the case earlier on in the pandemic. Now, local residents again are spending hours in line, this time hoping to obtain and keep on hand COVID-19 home test kits.

And despite this crush of awful news, apathy is setting in.

We frequently hear people say they are “done with COVID” and these bothersome mandates. Undoubtedly, we’ve all felt this way at some point during this ongoing pandemic.

Despite our feelings and frustrations, this resilient virus seems able to continue to evolve into new variants. Because of that we must not lose our focus as we head into 2022. We must continue to do our part to try to squelch this scourge and return our Valley, our state and our world to better health.

We need to minimize this threat in order to help businesses — especially small businesses — survive and prosper to keep growing our economy. If we work together, following the guidance that’s been given to us, hopefully we can keep our kids, our grandchildren and our teachers healthy so that they can maintain in-person learning in their schools. Indeed, that’s where they learn the best.

We have the tools to slow the spread and, in many cases, prevent hospitalization or death. Health officials push this message: Get vaccinated and get your booster shots.

If you are not inclined to receive the vaccination, then please do you part in other ways. Wear masks indoors and get tested before traveling. Wash your hands well and with great frequency. And always practice social distancing when you’re outside your home.

Doing what we can to help end this ongoing worldwide health crisis would be an excellent new year’s resolution for each of us.

— Youngstown Vindicator, Jan. 2