The global pandemic has created a new normal for everyone. It’s hard to adjust to following the public health recommendations from medical professionals and accept the daily inconveniences necessary to stay safe from the coronavirus.
I get that. We’ve been living our lives isolated from family and friends and away from our regular routines. For many people, Memorial Day weekend felt like a chance to escape lockdown and let loose, fellowship with friends and family, cool off at the beach or in pools, and party at bars and nightclubs.
But as our city’s businesses re-open and we resume more of our usual activities, we still need to follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing, masking up and sanitizing.
Quite frankly, I was deeply disturbed by the Memorial Day weekend news reports on large crowds of people gathering throughout our city. The social media pictures I saw of the start-of-summer festivities were alarming because very few people were social distancing or wearing masks or face coverings of any kind.
And I thought, maybe the people in these crowds and walking around without masks haven’t been tested for the coronavirus like I have.
Maybe, unlike me, no one in their lives has tested positive for the virus and isolated themselves from their loved ones to prevent them from getting sick.
Maybe, unlike me, no one in their lives has been hospitalized with COVID-19 and forced to breathe through a ventilator because their lungs are filled with fluid and unable to work on their own.
Maybe, unlike me, no one in their lives has died from the COVID-19 illness alone in a hospital bed without any loved ones there to hold their hands and kiss them goodbye.
Maybe, unlike me, no one in their lives has been remembered at a funeral service that only a handful of people could attend because of the threat of the virus.
COVID-19 hasn’t left the City of Houston. This virus kills. And we cannot afford to let our guards down.
I am a father, an uncle and a friend. As your mayor, I am asking you to Mask Up to save lives, including your own.
Mask Up and stay six feet away from others to protect yourself and them. The CDC says that keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to this virus and slowing its spread here in Houston and across the country and world.
Mask Up and go get tested at one of our free testing sites. The CDC now estimates that a third of all people in the US who have this virus do not exhibit symptoms and that 40 percent of coronavirus transmission occurs before people feel sick.
Mask Up to show your love for your family and friends. Using bandanas and other simple cloth face coverings helps to slow the spread of the virus by people who may have the virus and don’t know it.
And don’t let the fear of missing out dictate your life. Even if an establishment allows crowds, be a leader and make a different choice.
So far in Houston, more than 125 people have died from COVID-19 and hundreds more have been diagnosed. Right now, hospital intensive care units in our region have enough beds to take care of everyone who gets sick. But, if too many people have the virus at the same time, we will run out of beds. We will run out of ventilators. And that means we could lose many, many more people.
Tony Pierce, one of my fraternity brothers, died this month from complications of pneumonia and COVID-19. His wife Gayle and daughter Nia are now living a new normal that will never change. Their future will always be without Tony by their sides.
“Stop being macho. Stop trying to be cute. Put the mask on,” Gayle Pierce said at a recent news conference at City Hall.
Please listen to the warnings from the Pierce family, the physicians, public health officials and government leaders. Every person in this city is responsible for keeping everyone safe and well.
We can’t afford for this virus to get out of control. If we have another large outbreak, our economy will stop again, and the stay-at-home orders could go back into place. But, most importantly, more people will die.
Start or continue to Mask Up with a proper mask or face covering. Wash your hands. Keep a physical distance of six feet from others who are not members of your household.
All of our lives depend on each one of you.