There was a time, a few months into the pandemic, when I wondered if we would know who the last person to die from COVID-19 would be. I was certain that science would come to the rescue, not with a cure because it was a virus, but almost certainly with a vaccine, although I thought that it might take years.
At first, I was foolishly upbeat about the whole thing. Having lived through SARS and the Avian flu scares, I really didn’t expect anything different this time. I remember thinking that after a few weeks of lockdown, we would be treated to the NCAA Basketball Tournament in late April or early May.
Like most Americans, in a tough time like that, I was more than willing to put politics aside in exchange for real leadership, but it was not to be. I had sincerely hoped that the then-President would rise to the challenge, face it head-on and LEAD. But, instead, he alternately ran from it, tried to deny it, and probably even tried to profit from it. Who knows, maybe the country would have fractured under other presidents, as well. We needed a Zelinskyy but were stuck with a Putin.
Even without leadership, I still thought that we Americans would rise to the challenge, put aside our differences, and come together to show the world that we do things the best. That optimism went out the window when people started partying on Memorial Day weekend of 2020. Some of my fellow Americans apparently had the focus and willpower of a 14-year-old boy thrown into a strip club with a stack of one-dollar bills.
For the past couple weeks, I was getting updates about a case Back East. It involved a friend of a friend of a relative. This guy, a firefighter, was a staunch opponent of vaccines and masks. He and his wife and his wife’s mother had alienated themselves from the rest of the family with their stance on the virus (their “stance” being that there was no virus; it was all a government hoax). They even missed out on a big family wedding by refusing to get vaccinated.
His wife was a few months pregnant when he first got sick. He went to the hospital and was told that he had a severe case of COVID. He got so angry with the diagnosis that he left the hospital and went home for a couple days. When asked, his mother-in-law said that he had pneumonia. When his wife was asked about her health and that of the baby, she responded that pneumonia isn’t contagious. (It actually is.)
His condition continued to worsen, but his wife and mother-in-law both insisted to the medical staff that the term COVID not be used because “we’re not stupid! He has pneumonia.” The doctors eventually had to put him into a coma so that they could try different therapies. None worked.
As the wife hit the 15-week mark in her pregnancy, the patient rallied briefly, but then his condition took a nosedive. They were going to try a last-ditch effort that involved blood replacement but before they could implement it, the man died. Thirty-nine years old, formerly healthy, solid career, about to be a dad. Gone.
The last I heard, the widow and soon-to- be-grandmother were trying to see if there was a way to keep COVID off the death certificate.
This is what our beloved country has become, a hollow place where people are willing to die for a lie, to make a spouse a widow and leave a child forever fatherless rather than admitting that science is real. He probably could have lived another 39 years. He could have had a family and watched his child grow to early middle age. It would have taken a couple hours of his time, at most, to stand in line and get the two painless doses of a vaccine that works almost miraculously. Instead, he sacrificed himself on the Altar of Owning The Libs.
Now we’re told that the word we’re supposed to start using is “endemic” (instead of pandemic). When I first heard that, it sounded wrong, not matching the definition that I had in my head. I looked it up and two of the three definitions given are completely off, having to do with species of plants or animals that live in a certain region. The third definition—a disease or condition regularly found among particular people or in a certain area—is closer.
We’re probably never going to know who the last person to die from COVID will be. People are going to keep dying from it, but it will mostly be the unvaccinated who live in areas where science is about as welcome as ethnic diversity.
I sincerely hope that changes, but it probably won’t. Sadly, when people look back on this period, no one will ever say that this was America’s finest hour.
Instead, it’s been one of our worst.