Let’s do a COVID-19 reality check:
- April 29 marked 100 days since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Washington State (although experts think it was quietly moving among us before then).
- Today, May 22, marks the end of 10 weeks the kids have been out of school.
- According to the CDC, over 1.5 million people living in the United States have confirmed cases COVID-19. To date, more than 94,000 people in this country have died.
- On Saturday, May 16, the Department of Health announced that 1,001 Washingtonians have died of COVID-19. At that time, there were 18,433 confirmed cases and 285,243 tests given (6.5% positive results).
These are grim numbers (sourced from the CDC and the WA State Department of Health). No way around that.
And what’s possibly even more grim is the amount of misinformation going around. There are so many rumors, conspiracy theories, conflicting stories, and flat-out lies about COVID-19 and what should be the appropriate response. There’s rampant freud and outright theft of emergency funding meant to help those who desperately need it. People are confused, angry, anxious, and afraid about what is happening. Despite 24-hour news coverage, it’s really hard to say who to believe, what’s true, and what’s safe.
We’ve lost friends and family. We’ve lost jobs. We’re at risk of losing our homes and our businesses. We’ve canceled trips, missed graduations, rescheduled weddings, and haven’t held new babies. We can’t have funerals. We’ve called off birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, family dinners, and happy hours with friends. We stand in long lines to go into stores and don’t hug our friends or shake hands with colleagues. There are protests against rent, against disparities, to protect workers, to demand we open back up now. Wearing a mask or not wearing a mask is no longer just a public health issue – it’s become a divisive political statement.
About 90% of Americans have been living under some form of lockdown for weeks. The increased rates of mental health and suicide crises, domestic violence incidents, and record number of unemployment claims and food bank lines demonstrate the urgency to get people out of their houses and back to work.
It’s a whole new COVID-19 world, and people are losing (or have lost) their patience. But here’s the truth.
Stay Home, Stay Healthy saves lives, but it doesn’t kill the coronavirus. Weeks of sacrifice and diligent physical-distancing have slowed the spread of COVID-19 and helped to not overwhelm the healthcare system. But COVID-19 is still out there. Whenever we return to our “new normal,” whether that’s this week or this summer or this fall, when stores are open, people are back at work, and kids are back in school, the number of infections and the number of deaths will rise. This is a biological fact.
COVID-19 will persist until there’s a widely-available vaccine or we naturally achieve “herd immunity,” which means most people have had COVID-19, recovered, and developed antibodies. Both of these options take time and are not without risks. More people are going to get sick, and some of those people are going to die.
We are connected. Now, more than ever, our individual choices greatly impact the lives around us. As we slowly and carefully reopen, it’s important to remain vigilant: know the facts, limit your excursions, wear a mask, stay at least 6-feet away from other people, and wash your hands.
COVID-19 is here to stay. We have to decide how we’re going to live with it.
Information changes rapidly. Know the facts. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-t0-date and reliable information at coronavirus.wa.gov.
Contact the Washington State call center for answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 at 1-800-525-0127. Hours 6am – 10pm, seven days a week.