Our view: Don't lose empathy, patience during COVID pandemic

·3 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has been exhausting for all of us - whether we've been infected or not.

And the number of people who haven't experienced COVID-19 firsthand is diminishing rapidly thanks to the super virulent Omicron variant.

It is easy to get discouraged by the stream of bad news with Ohio setting hospitalization records almost daily. We also understand the inclination to want to downplay or dismiss the pandemic at this point. Who doesn't want life to return to a pre-pandemic normal?

But these desires shouldn't diminish the real-life difficulties COVID has inflicted on so many.

In Licking County, 390 people have died from COVID-19 - including 143 since just the start of October. These people may have been older or other comorbidities, but that doesn't make their deaths any easier. That doesn't mean COVID didn't rob them of time they could have had spent with family and friends.

On Wednesday there were 54 people hospitalized locally with COVID-19, setting the record for the highest level in Licking County. Hospitals across the state have had to use help from the Ohio National Guard because the disease has made it difficult to staff them.

Just this past week, Licking Valley schools were forced to close because cases limited its available staff. Granville and Licking Heights implemented mask mandates, and some Newark schools had to go remote because of a lack of bus drivers.

While it may be true that Omicron is somewhat less dangerous than previous variants of COVID, the sheer number of people getting infected is putting strains on so many parts of our community.

We ask that people not dismiss these struggles simply because they are frustrated by the duration of the pandemic. A desire to return to normal should not diminish our empathy for the pain of a grieving family, the worry of a wife with a husband in the ICU or the exhaustion of a hospital nurse.

We in Licking County are quick to open our hearts when tragedy strikes. We should not close our hearts simply because the COVID tragedy has lasted longer than anyone would have wanted.

As we struggle through the latest stage of the pandemic, we should continue to take steps to limit its impact.

Health officials have repeatedly said that getting vaccinated against COVID is the best way to diminish its effects. Roughly half of those in Licking County have been vaccinated.

While more and more vaccinated people are becoming infected, those who are vaccinated often avoid the worst outcomes of the disease. In a recent study by the New York Times looking at COVID infections in New York and Seattle, data shows infection rates rising in both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. But while there has been a modest increase in the hospitalization rate for the vaccinated during Omicron's spike, the hospitalization rate for the unvaccinated has been significantly more.

We ask people discuss the vaccine with their doctor, and if you choose to remain unvaccinated to take other steps to reduce the spread, such as masking in public.

Let's not allow political differences to divide our community over a disease. Instead, let's show how much we truly care for our neighbor.

Editorial Board

  • Jim Bidigare

  • Olivia Biggs

  • Tim Huffman

  • Paddy Kutz

  • Benjamin Lanka

  • Jody Richter

This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Our view: Don't lose empathy, patience during COVID pandemic