To listen to this staff editorial in a special edition of The Suffolk Journal Podcast, click here.
The United States hit a grim milestone Wednesday: 100,000 American deaths caused by COVID-19.
As a country, we watched the death toll rise in from one to 100 to 1,000 by the end of March. We had just left our dorms, hunkered down in our homes and bought our first stockpile of groceries while still trying to get a grasp of what consequences this virus has had on our lives.
Now, two months later, we understand the horrors of COVID-19.
The New York Times’ front page on Sunday described it best. The page listed 1,000 names – 1,000 Americans – who have died from COVID-19 and a small glimpse into their stories. It jolted us into reality; a reality that this virus and the toll it has taken on this country is something our generation will never and should never forget.
This has become a tragedy like no other in recent history. We have now lost more American lives to COVID-19 than we did in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined. The New York Times reports that in the past three months, we have lost an average of 1,100 Americans a day.
The true loss is incalculable. The dead’s absence will be felt at birthdays, graduations, weddings; good times they should have been a part of.
What’s most painful is that many victims of this disease left this world without the comfort of their loved ones by their side. They were in packed hospitals, surrounded by strangers. Family and friends were not there to hold their hands and tell them they loved them for one last time before the virus unexpectedly cut their lives short.
They were unable to say goodbye.
But these people were more than numbers or names in an obituary. They were the people on the bus, the person in line at the store, the person you pass on the street, the people that made up the towns and cities across the country, in your home state, maybe even your hometown.
Our nation’s healthcare workers, service members and other essential workers, as well as volunteers, are selflessly working day and night, risking their lives to help us fight this battle with COVID-19.
For their sake, we should not argue about whether this tragedy was avoidable or not, nor politicize this virus as we politicize so much in our country today.
This virus has only brought pain – physical, mental and emotional hurt – to people across this country and across the world. Many members of the Suffolk University have lost loved ones to the virus, with some even suffering through it themselves. To keep this pain from spreading, we must take steps to slow the spread. We must remember that a mask is not a political statement – it is a tool to protect yourself and your fellow Americans.
Please stay home if you can, wear a mask if you must go out and take precautions around those who are at higher risk. Treat everyone as if they are more vulnerable to the virus than you are – and take this seriously. Many more could suffer if you don’t. This virus does not discriminate against race or creed or political party or belief. It has and will continue to attack and infect anyone.
We need to unite as a nation and protect each other. This is a battle between the human race and a virus. No human life is worth less than a healthy economy, a busy social life or your ability to go out to a restaurant or get your hair done.
If you saw the front page of the New York Times Sunday, you have a sense of what just one percent of this loss looks like.
– The Suffolk Journal staff