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All of us must do part to stave off fourth virus surge

Philosopher George Santayana once wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It appears that many Americans are fitting the profile.

President Joe Biden and a top health official declared Monday that too many Americans are declaring virus victory too early. They appealed for mask requirements and other restrictions to be maintained or restored to stave off a “fourth surge” of COVID-19. The head of the CDC said she had a feeling of “impending doom” if people keep easing off, according to an article by The Associated Press.

The double dose of warnings came even as Biden laid out hopeful new steps to expand coronavirus vaccinations, with all adults to become eligible over the next five weeks. Biden announced plans to expand the number of retail pharmacies that are administering vaccines, and investments to help Americans get to vaccination sites.

But the optimism was tempered by stark warnings about the potential for another wave of cases.

Hours earlier, during a virtual White House health briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, grew emotional as she reflected on her experience treating COVID-19 patients who are alone at the end of their lives.

“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope,” she said. “But right now, I’m scared.”

“I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.”

Cases of the virus are up about 10% over the past week from the previous week, to about 60,000 cases per day, with both hospitalizations and deaths ticking up as well, Walensky said. She warned that without immediate action, the U.S. could follow European countries into another spike in cases and suffer needless deaths.

“I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust you will listen,” she said.

Later Monday, Biden addressed the nation from the White House, declaring, “If we let our guard down now, we can see the virus getting worse, not better. People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing.”

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Michigan had the country’s second-highest per-capita case rate over the past week, trailing only New York. The seven-day daily average was 5,157 on Sunday, more than double from 2,223 two weeks earlier.

We will never see a return to “normal life” if we continue to act as though it’s business as usual. Please, continue to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and when it becomes available to you, get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The only way this gets better is for us all to acknowledge that ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

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