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COVID-19 milestone a national tragedy that continues to unfold

Some milestones are great, some are not so great.

The milestone reached earlier this week — the 500,000 fatality total due to COVID-19 in the U.S. — is beyond not so great.

It’s terrible, depressing, unthinkable — the adjectives go on, and they’re all negative.

Other countries have fared better than the U.S., and we need to acknowledge that fact and get past it.

The Washington Post quoted Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the U.S., as telling Reuters that those half a million people should not have died of COVID-19, considering the U.S. is one of the richest and more sophisticated countries in the world.

Fauci reportedly called the death toll “stunning,” with the “intense” political divisiveness contributing to the high number of fatalities.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone. For some reason, people having to stop for a red light in a busy intersection doesn’t result in the acrimony that simply wearing a mask inside a store brings up.

Both actions are concerned with public safety, yet the latter is met with more resistance.

President Joe Biden ordered all U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff for the rest of the week in remembrance of the lives lost in the pandemic.

That symbolic gesture is good, but people need to step up, practically speaking.

Vaccinations might be slow in coming, but we urge people to get vaccinated when they can. In the meantime, they can continue to do what they should have been doing all along: wearing face masks properly, avoiding social gatherings other than within their own households, maintaining social distancing in public, and using hand sanitizer and washing hands frequently.

Actually, these actions should be second nature by now.

Even if people don’t agree with all the state of Michigan’s epidemic orders, such as limiting indoor dining to 25% capacity through March 29, they can still abide by them. They also can refrain from disparaging people who ask them to follow protocol.

Is wearing a cloth mask so difficult? It shouldn’t be, considering what’s at stake.

Let’s all do our part to keep such a milestone from ever happening again.

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