Large protests against social injustice, medium-sized gatherings of friends, barbecues at the pool requiring anyone feeling sick to stay home, and I could go on and on.  People are really, really trying to do what is right and smart while society is caught in a very difficult place.  

The urgent and necessary need to protest and fight injustice is stronger than ever while in many areas the transmission of COVID-19 is also stronger than ever. 

We all did well for a while with social distancing and working together as a society to avoid getting or unintentionally spreading COVID-19.   Balancing the urgent need to stand up and speak out against injustice and being attentive to the COVID-19 pandemic is likely what all of us are being confronted with now more than ever.  

 The protests all over the country against the murder of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, countless others, and the oppressive, systematic policies and biases in our country made me really start thinking about the crucial importance of decisions we are now making and why I am making the decisions that I am.  

 We have some very, very heavy burdens and responsibilities to bear now as a country. We must first accept our responsibilities and determine how best to transform our burdens into opportunities then into solutions. 

The first burden or responsibility is to decide how we will uproot systems and ideologies that have assisted and advanced oppression and unacceptable disparities in criminal justice, housing, healthcare, education, and property rights just to name a few.  

The second burden or responsibility is to not allow COVID-19 to silently overtake us as we focus on our primary objectives. 

 In essence, we have two pandemics going on at once. Both essential in determining our future.  In order to address one, we must not ignore the other. In order to find solutions to oppression, we must be strong enough and alive to do so.  There are definitely ways we can do both. 

We have no other choice. 

I’ve personally decided to continue to practice social distancing while also fighting injustice.  Some tell me that to still be social distancing when our government has allowed us to reopen is extreme and “overly cautious”.

Let me explain why I have chosen to err on the side of extreme safety and caution rather than giving in to my desires to return to life in a more normal fashion and with less social distancing. 

I’m pretty much choosing to go even beyond the guidelines the government has put in place as our country opens up. 

This pandemic is not ending. In fact, it is surging. There were 136,000 new infections reported Sunday, June 14th, the highest single day increase since the start of the pandemic. 

There are more than 7 million confirmed cases so far. The number of deaths is nearing half a million, with little sign of tapering off, and global health experts are continuing to sound the alarm.

The scale of the coronavirus has made it hard to take in.

“In the period of four months, it has devastated the world,” Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. And it isn’t over yet.”

According to a June 11th article by Adam Taylor of the Washington Post, “The coronavirus pandemic isn’t ending — it’s surging.”

I’ve talked to several doctors and their opinions have influenced me a great deal. Every single doctor I’ve talked with has said it is extremely important to still be incredibly cautious and continue quarantining to some degree and social distancing. 

They’ve explained that while some recover from a COVID-19 diagnosis, many go into ICU and never recover. 

One surgeon noted that some states have had COVID-19 diagnoses decrease to then spike all over again directly after the state reopened and folks began to get comfortable and reduce their social distancing. 

Another ER doctor I spoke with had gone to a NYC hotspot to provide medical services to some of New York city’s most vulnerable. This doctor described how brutal the disease is and because of its newness, medical professionals are still learning how best to treat it.  So, there is no official, accepted treatment plan yet.   

Another doctor told me how carefully her hospital in Atlanta has been to eliminate almost all surgery unless it is specifically required to save life. 

A cardiologist noted that we should definitely not yet relax until our respective city or state has been open for at least a month and then we can evaluate the number of COVID-19 cases at that time and make a decision on relaxing our social distancing or not.  

As I choose to continue social distancing I am thinking of the stories I have heard from those who have recovered from COVID-19 and stories of friends who have lost family members to the disease. In short, my understanding is that the disease can be extremely traumatic if one is lucky enough to survive.  

Lastly, I am remaining home and extremely cautious because of the guidance from Atlanta’s leadership and in honor and respect of those who have lost their lives to the virus and in support of those who are front line workers. 

Maybe I’m a scaredy-cat, call me any name you like. But the stories I’ve heard of the horrific suffering combined with doctors not being positive yet of what to do makes me feel much more comfortable erring on the side of caution at least for a few more weeks (or even months). 

I guess I’d just rather be safe than … sick. 

(Photo courtesy of Sarah-Elizabeth Langford Reed)

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