It’s important to remember each COVID-19 case has a story

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CLAY COUNTY – Regardless of your feelings on COVID-19, there are real consequences that come with the virus.

It’s easy to feel like the coronavirus isn’t nearly as dangerous as it's made out to be on TV. Places like New York are seeing the worst of it, but this is Clay County, not New York, right? We have a population of more than 220,000 people and 321 confirmed cases of infections as of Tuesday night.

Why should we be scared? Why should we be social distancing? Why should we be staying at home?

Numbers certainly tell a story, but do they tell us how much of an impact each of those cases makes? The numbers also tell you about the number of people that have died.

But what these numbers don’t tell you are the deeper implications of this virus and what it means for our eventual return to normalcy.

My brother-in-law had a son just a few weeks ago. It’s my second nephew. He wasn’t even sure if he’d be allowed in the room when his wife gave birth until the days leading up to the birth. The family wasn’t allowed at the hospital. I met my new nephew through a video chat and a couple of pictures.

It’s been three weeks now and I still haven’t held him. It’ll be at least another few weeks before I get to do that. Instead, I sit outside in my brother-in-law’s backyard and look at the baby through a glass window. It’s definitely sad, and it’s downright heartbreaking for my wife. This child is her first nephew and to not hold him, smell his baby skin, hear his laughs, his burps, his cries, be the aunt she’s always wanted to be, it hurts.

I can’t help but feel disdain for anyone not taking this coronavirus seriously. As if death and sickness aren’t enough to keep some people from taking every necessary (and recommended, mind you) precaution, there are other implications of this virus that people might not ever experience and to ignore those experiences signals to be a lack of empathy.

Newborns aren’t able to properly meet their extended family. People already immunocompromised live in fear of what this virus could do to them – a fear someone who isn’t immunocompromised wouldn’t understand. If someone you know got the virus and was hospitalized, there’s a good chance they’d be hospitalized alone. You wouldn’t get to visit. Now imagine them dying in that hospital bed. They’d do that alone, too.

What about their funeral? No more than 10 people are allowed if any. You see, there’s so much that’s easy to forget about when the coronavirus hasn’t touched your life but that doesn’t excuse you from a lack of empathy or care for others nor does it place you above the science that proves this virus is not to be trifled with.

If you truly aren’t worried about the virus affecting you, then worry about it affecting me and other families in Clay County. I want to meet my nephew. I want to rest easy knowing my grandparents are safe. I want to rest easy knowing that my fellow people in this county are safe and that can’t be done until everyone takes this seriously.

If we all treat this virus as it should be treated – like a global pandemic that’s killed a lot of people – then it will be a thing of our past. But if people continue to scoff at its abilities to cause real damage in people’s lives, it will be part of our future.

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