BY LUKE HARRIS
America has thrown in the towel in the fight against the coronavirus.
According to the CDC, the U.S. has almost 6 million cases and just over 180,000 deaths. Despite this, we see attempts to live in our “new normal” like nothing has changed.
Notably, some college students have continued partying as if it’s just another semester. Gyms, restaurants and other locations that were seen as extremely risky are now being reopened in many parts of the country.
While all of this is happening, America still has daily case counts in the tens of thousands and daily deaths topping 1,000. We were scared of COVID-19 in March. “Safer at home” was shouted louder in the spring than it is in our present. Now, we are becoming numb to the danger COVID-19 presents.
Maybe our indifference is because the presidential election is stealing the spotlight. Perhaps it is the Black Lives Matter movement calling our attention. There are fair arguments to be made for both. But I don’t think they are the reason we care less about COVID-19.
The increased apathy towards the pandemic is because we convinced ourselves to get comfortable in this “new normal.” We have managed to normalize a virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.
When we call this state of the world our “new normal,” we forget what normal really is. We need to reactivate our human instincts and remember how awful these times are.
Let me make it clear: I am not against behaving safely under COVID-19. We need to wear masks, social distance, wash our hands and avoid large gatherings. The problem I’m addressing isn’t about following safety procedures, but our attitude towards them.
We should not wear masks to embrace the “new normal,” but because we are fighting for the real normal. The normal where it’s odd to see the majority of people wearing face coverings in public. The normal where it’s unusual for people to say “stay safe” as a common goodbye. The normal where it’s strange to avoid hugging your family and friends.
We should not be comfortable observing this perverse state of affairs and shrugging our shoulders. We should not acclimate ourselves to pandemic control measures and say, “It is what it is.” We should not say this is the “new normal.”
It’s not new because we have been talking about COVID-19 since it showed up in China at the end of last year. It’s not normal because — do I really have to explain that one?
Don’t settle into this situation and think that thousands of infections every day is okay. It’s not, and we can do better. Don’t wait for others to tell you to do the right thing. They will not, and if they do, they won’t do it in time. Motivate yourself.
I know it sucks. But let’s remember what we are fighting for.
When I wear a mask, I am fighting for the normal where I can go to the grocery store without my mask. When I social distance, I am fighting for the normal where I don’t have to keep six feet away from my neighbors. When I remember the dangers of COVID-19, I am fighting for the normal where we can get back to fixing dangers unrelated to COVID-19.
In order to get there, we’ve all got to do our part. Just remember that normal is what we make of it.