Looking for Normal

COVID-19’s resurgence is both tragic and disheartening, especially having recently come off a period of steadily declining cases. We’re deep into pandemic fatigue, and with all the news about emerging variants, it’s hard to
imagine a time when we will return to normal. But science tells us that normal
— or something close to it — is within our reach, if we are willing to employ
the tools we have at our disposal: masks, vaccinations, and kindness.

Increasingly, studies have shown that wearing a mask significantly reduces
the spread of COVID. It’s a simple action that helps to protect us and those
around us. Individuals who might not choose to protect themselves with a
mask — either because they do not believe in the danger of the disease or do
not feel personally vulnerable (even though recent data shows we are all at
risk) — can take this simple, non-invasive action to respect the concerns of
others. Even those who do not trust the science can understand that kindness
itself is good for our health. It is the very least we can do for ourselves and our
loved ones.

Science, though, is providing us with plentiful evidence, if we are only willing
to do the research. Doing so means muddling through a fog of misleading
information that has contributed to too many people (including a few of my
own loved ones) being unwilling or afraid to roll up their sleeves and get
vaccinated.

Part of the problem is that as we learn more about COVID-19 — and as the
virus itself changes — the guidance has had to change too. While messages
appear to be mixed, they are simply evolving. It is exhausting to keep up, but
well worth the effort.

Another part of the problem is history, particularly the history of
maltreatment of African Americans by the medical community — a history
hundreds of years longer than the COVID-19 pandemic and its preventative
treatments. We have reason to be wary; we need to protect our health. But
not at the expense of our health. We can’t be frightened out of the ability to
arm ourselves with information that will help us make beneficial choices.

I’m tired of the seemingly weekly phone calls about a church member, or a
friend of a friend, who has died because they vowed not to get the shot. My heart aches with the pain of their family members who didn’t have a choice
but now bear the trauma and burden of losing a loved one. It’s all preventable.

My hope for each of us, as individuals and collectively, as part of a global
community, is that everyone will take the time to do the research: look at the
facts, talk to your doctor, review the findings from credible sources. Share
your findings with your skeptical loved ones and listen to their concerns in a
compassionate way. When they know they are not being judged they are more
likely to be open to trusting solutions.

Trusted sources of information continue to be critical. That’s why we launched our health initiative, COVID-19 Black, more than a year ago. Please visit the site and check out its wealth of tips and resources. Other organizations, such as Roots Community Health Center and the Bay Area Community Health Advisory Council, are also excellent sources for you to review.

Let’s maintain the ground we’ve gained in the fight against this disease and
take steps toward protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Please get
vaccinated.

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