Hannah Romero mask

Trust me, I’m over COVID-19.

I’m over it in the sense that I’m sick and tired of it, and I want it to be done taking over my life. I’m over it because I miss going to a restaurant and the movie theater with my friends; I miss plays and concerts and community events; I miss singing and laughing with my church; I miss hugs and closeness with people outside my immediate circle. I’m over it because it’s exhausting to constantly think about wearing a mask, washing my hands, not rubbing my eyes, and sanitizing every surface I could have possibly touched.

I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who feels this way. It’s been a long two and a half months, and most of us are missing the things we took for granted and struggling with some of the new realities of daily life.

But just because we’re over it, that doesn’t mean it’s over.

Here in Wyoming, some things are starting to move back toward what we used to consider normal. As places reopen and restrictions relax, we’re able to start going places and doing things we haven’t been able to for a while. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get a little taste of freedom without wanting to go all the way. We’re so over this virus, it’s tempting to want to just say “forget this” and go about our lives the way we used to.

But we’re not quite there yet.

We are still in the middle of this pandemic, and, unfortunately, COVID-19 won’t just go away because we’re annoyed with it.

In order for us to begin reopening things, we’re required to keep following restrictions, rules, and guidelines, like staying 6 feet away from people, wearing masks, washing our hands, and sanitizing frequently-touched surfaces. We’ve heard these guidelines so many times now, and continuing to keep up with them takes effort, so it is extremely easy to let these safety measures slide and convince ourselves that it won’t matter. After all, we think, our state is doing so well, we’re improving, things are loosening up, we’ll be fine ... right?

But now is exactly the point when it’s more important than ever to be careful and to take this virus seriously.

The simple fact is Wyoming still has a significant number of active cases, and those case numbers have continued going up since the public health orders were relaxed, including several new cases in Sweetwater County after we’d gone two weeks without any. The more we’re out and about and occupying the same space as other people, the more easily the virus can spread, especially if we’re ignoring the guidelines because we think it won’t matter.

It is precisely because I’m over COVID-19 that I want everyone to keep fighting it —I don’t want us to lose the ground we’ve gained just because we got tired and gave up too soon.

We also have to realize that, even though no one has had it easy, we’ve been very privileged here in Wyoming. Our case numbers and death total have stayed comparatively low, and we’ve been able to enjoy less restrictive rules and an earlier reopening than most of the other states in our country (let alone other countries around the world). Right now, we have more options open to us than many other people do, and we need to not take that for granted.

For so many people, this virus is still a very real presence in their lives that they can’t just ignore. I’m sure the doctors who barely sleep and can’t go home to their families are more “over it” than we are. I’m sure the people in New York City who’ve been holed up in tiny apartments for months, unable to get away to the great outdoors, and hearing death numbers go up drastically every day are more “over it” than us. And even our friends and neighbors here in Wyoming who are hospitalized and who have lost their loved ones are more “over it” than most of us who have only had to deal with being inconvenienced.

Compared to what so many other people have gone through and are still going through, most of us have had it pretty easy, and the things we’re asked to do now really aren’t that big of sacrifices. I know it’s not fun to wear a mask or sanitize your phone, but it’s not that difficult, and in so many ways it’s the least we can do.

We need to be willing to inconvenience ourselves and make sacrifices for the good of others. And that’s the whole idea — we as humanity will all get through this virus by working together and looking out for each other. This is the core concept behind wearing masks. We don’t wear them because we’re scared or because it will protect us from getting the virus, because actually it won’t. The concept is that wearing a mask helps prevent someone who might have the virus and not know it from spreading it. So when I wear a mask, it’s not to protect me, it’s to protect you; and when you wear your mask you’re helping protect me.

I also realize that sometimes the rules are hard to follow — like for a single mom who has to bring all her kids into the grocery store with her every time, or people with asthma who aren’t able to wear masks. This is why it’s also important to remember to be compassionate and not make assumptions about whether or not other people are following the rules exactly like you think they should. I just hope that everyone will follow guidelines to the best of their abilities, rather than give up because they’re tired of the extra effort.

For the sake of so many people, we can’t get lazy or give up yet and make things worse.

For the sake of those whose lives were lost, for their families and friends whose lives will never be the same, for our doctors and nurses and healthcare workers sacrificing everything, for those who’ve put themselves more at risk so the rest of us can keep going, for those who are immunocompromised and high risk who can’t just ignore these guidelines because they don’t feel like following them {span}—{/span} we need to keep going and keep being careful until we can all be truly over it together.

Hannah Romero is the digital media manager at the Rocket Miner and can be contacted at hromero@rocketminer.com, or you can follow her on Twitter @hannahromero131.

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