Cases and deaths from COVID-19 have decreased precipitously in nursing centers after the vast majority of their residents were vaccinated. My parents and I are able to spend time together because we are all vaccinated, and my mom can visit us outside her nursing center without a window between us or masks covering our smiles. Last week my parents hugged their granddaughters for the first time in over a year. This joy is being experienced by family after family across the nation – because of the vaccines.
This is finally something to celebrate, but with cases rising again in the general population because of (a) relaxing of mask mandates and social distancing restrictions, (b) people refusing to get vaccinated, and (c) new variants gaining more traction owing to b and c; we may find ourselves allowing new, more contagious, and more deadly variants of the virus to erase the gains we are making with vaccines.
If this happens, it will be in large part the fault of the anti-vaxxer 45% of white evangelical Christians and their religious and political leaders who are rejecting what our best scientists are telling us we need to be doing at this stage of the pandemic. As of today, 561,000 people in the United States have died from this virus. So many families and loved ones are grieving. So many loved ones didn’t make it to the day when they could hug their loved ones again. Hundreds of thousands of those deaths could have been avoided.
Now we have a chance to save hundreds of thousands of lives by taking appropriate public health precautions and getting vaccinated. Nothing says we love God and that we love our neighbor more than doing what it takes to save our neighbors from preventable sickness and death. Thoughts and prayers are not enough for those we can save by taking action.