Opinion

A year later, coronavirus continues killing Iowans

Tuesday was the year anniversary of Gov. Kim Reynolds meeting with Iowa Department of Public Health and Homeland Security to discuss the coronavirus.

A year later, many Iowans are acting as if everything is normal, but everything is not normal.

In Iowa 5,498 people have died.

When the Center for Disease Control started promoting mask wearing, I lived in Ames. Many were slow to adapt. Parties were still being held, social distancing was a piece of fiction is many people’s minds.

For some, they finally realized the impact and started abiding by recommendations, for others nothing changed as the months ticked by.

After a few months of panic and lockdown, Iowans were quick to go back to normal as much as possible.

People still didn’t wear masks at the store. Large gatherings were still held. People said more people die from the flu.

I am so disappointed with Iowa. The pandemic was actively killing people, and many Iowans were going on with the norm.

I cannot only blame Iowans though.

The nation was being told only those with preexisting conditions or elderly individuals should be concerned, creating a narrative that everyone else was free to do as they please. Iowans were being told doing things outside was fine, with “social distancing.”

“I’m not worried about it, if I get it, I get it,” was a comment I heard over and over.

The narrative was encouraging Iowans to do as they please. When Reynolds slowly started lifting restrictions and schools started opening back up, the flood gates were opened.

People went on with their lives, trying to forget about the pandemic. But it was never over and still isn’t.

I am frustrated that the pandemic was not handled properly. I am frustrated that this was something the United States was not prepared for.

Public health departments have had plans in place for years in case of a national pandemic. Yet the national narrative was that this was a “once in a lifetime event,” and there was no way to know what was going to happen. (Public health and hospitals did the best they could with the situation, and I am very grateful for that.)

More than 500,000 people have died in the United States. How many of those deaths were preventable?

I won’t say I am a saint. I have gone to a restaurant to eat a few times. I have forgotten to wear my mask at times, but I never denied the existences of a threat.

I knew denying myself of doing other things I loved was worth it in the end, and still is worth it. If I caused one person to die or even suffer because of the virus, I would never forgive myself.

Iowans say we are known for being friendly and welcoming. There is nothing friendly about ignoring a national pandemic. There is nothing neighborly about attending a super spreader event. There is nothing cool about calling it a hoax.

The pandemic still is happening. Safety precautions are not going away any time soon.

As the vaccine is slowly being distributed, I see a little light down the tunnel.

I am grateful vulnerable populations are finally being protected through the vaccine, because for the last year, Iowans didn’t take the responsibility seriously.

Avoid large gatherings, wear a mask and social distance. Please.

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