Northwest Missourian Opinion

About eight months ago, the editorial staff of this newspaper penned an Our View about COVID-19. It came out during our special COVID-19 issue, a paper released almost exactly on the one-year anniversary of the virus bringing the U.S. to a standstill and irrecoverably changing the way we all live.

At the end of that editorial, there was a statement of hope, of optimism. It was written at a time when COVID-19 vaccines were just beginning to open up to everyone over the age of 18. It looked as though there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, we had heard from medical experts that the virus wouldn’t completely disappear anytime soon. There would still be pockets of it in the U.S., but we would no longer be in a pandemic.

There was a hope that masks would become a thing of the past for many of us — a strange piece of cloth that would be buried at the bottom of closets and drawers, only to be pulled out years later with a sigh and a “Remember when we had to wear these everywhere?”

We wrote about medical experts telling us the goal of herd immunity was finally within grasp. By the summer, we would all be living normal lives because of the vaccines created in record time.

The common sentiment for the first year of this pandemic was that the vaccine rollout would spell the end of the pandemic. It would be the ex machina, the thing produced in the third act of a movie that solves all the problems and returns the world to normal.

However, midway through the summer, the opposite happened.

Vaccines weren’t rolling out in the droves people predicted as hesitancy and misinformation spread as fast as the virus had. Then, COVID-19 did what viruses do; it mutated. The summer of 2021, which initially gave everyone hope, became a nightmare scenario. The delta variant, a more contagious and deadly strain of COVID-19, began ravaging communities across the country.

Suddenly, everything felt like we were back to a time before the vaccine: masks everywhere, hospitals overflowing, experts on TV urging people to follow precautions. Perhaps most importantly, the same people whose family members were dying from the virus were using social media to cast doubt on not only the virus’s lethality but its existence entirely.

Since the emergence of the delta variant, we have gone through numerous ups and downs. Recently, it felt like maybe we were out of the woods. Local health officials held on to cautious optimism that the downward trend in fall cases would continue and that they could put their main focus on an issue other than COVID-19.

Then, the past few weeks happened, and it feels like Nodaway County and Northwest are right back where they started a year ago. Undoubtedly, the recent spike in COVID-19 is linked to Homecoming and Halloween, the start of cold and flu season among other reasons. University and county cases have reached highs not seen since 2020, and hospitalizations have seen a significant increase in the Mosaic system.

At this point, we at The Missourian are exhausted.

We know many of you don’t like reading stories with COVID-19 mentioned in them — that number swelling to over 500 since March 2020. We are tired of writing them.

We are tired of writing about spikes and mask mandates. We are tired of having to put the same information given by local health officials in our paper.

We are tired of sharing the proper guidelines for mitigation measures and the information that the vaccine is not only safe, but it is effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19.

As journalists in college, we understand that, while knowledgeable in many areas, rarely are we the foremost experts on anything. We don’t have a single person on staff with a background in immunology or virology. None of us were in lab coats conducting efficacy trials in 2020 to determine the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, but we listened to those who did.

It’s been said to the point of exhaustion, but the vaccines for COVID-19 are safe and are effective. The Editorial Staff of The Missourian isn’t creating that statement out of thin air; we are relaying facts from experts.

We aren’t pushing some liberal agenda, attempting to help “the state” control people, or any of the other feckless conspiracy theories touted on social media. We are pushing the agenda of not wanting us, you, your loved ones or our loved ones to die from a virus that we have a vaccine for.

Because until we get to a point where two-thirds of the people in this community are vaccinated, we won’t be able to focus on anything else.

The Missourian won’t be able to “stick to sports” when athletes getting COVID-19 is still a real concern. We won’t be able to focus on events like graduation on campus without at least mentioning the possible dangers of mass gatherings.

We will continue to be tired of writing them, and you will continue to be tired of reading them. Until we reach herd immunity, until people make the common sense decision backed by science, we won’t be able to focus on anything else.

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