“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
No one wants their actions to be referred to as “ignorance” or “stupidity”, but these words by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more appropriate, as we are witnessing the seemingly care-free response that many people are having to the COVID-19 virus that is plaguing our nation.
There is still NO CURE. There is still NO VACCINE. There is still NO SHORTAGE of positive cases or deaths.
The impact of this vicious COVID-19 virus rages on, yet many people act as if it is gone.
From average citizen to business owner to elected official, many of these select individuals have decided to carry on with life as we once knew it, as if there is no major pandemic impacting the health, or even taking the lives of American citizens as is being reported on a daily basis.
Several states have reopened at the direction of the various governors of those respective states.
On May 1st, Governor Greg Abbott reopened the state of Texas, after announcing he would not be extending his executive order for Texans to stay at home past April 30.
Interestingly, on the day the stay-at-home order was set to end, the state of Texas also saw an increase in positive COVID-19 cases, as well as the most deaths to date it had ever seen.
On that same day, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) held a press conference at United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) to plead with Governor Abbott to rescind his decision to reopen the state, along with Dr. Joseph Gathe, Dr. Joseph Varon and many other healthcare professionals, elected officials, COVID-19 survivors and community leaders.
“We have no interest in contention or conflict,” said Congresswoman Jackson Lee. “However, I stand firm in my belief that we are not ready to open any states right now, unless they prove to us that they have 14 days with diminishing cases and they can say they have made available testing for everyone who needs a test and desires a test. Frankly, everyone in this country should be able to have access to a test.”
Testing has been an ongoing challenge for many states across this country, including Texas.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee worked with UMMC to set up the first testing site in the Greater Houston area to offer COVID-19 testing at no cost and with no pre-registration. They have since opened several other testing sites across the region, especially in areas with a significant number of African American residents. These testing sites have revealed some interesting results.
One of the primary findings has been that COVID-19 is not a virus that only impacts the elderly. COVID-19 is an equal opportunity virus that targets you, regardless of your age or status.
As of May 2nd, UMMC had tested a total of 20,793 patients overall at four different locations – Tidwell, Cullen, Forest Brook and Sugar Land. At the Tidwell location, roughly 30% of the patients screened were Black, with the median age of those who have tested positive being 33 years of age. At the Cullen location, 72% of those screened were Black, with the median age of positive patients being 29 years of age. Approximately 57% of those screened at the Forest Brook location were Black, and the median age was 52. Lastly, at the Sugar Land location, roughly 30% of those tested were Black and the median age was 54.
As you can see, 29 to 54 years of age has been the median age range of those tested at UMMC locations, which includes testing locations in areas that have a heavy population of African Americans. This data should truly open the eyes of many African Americans, especially those who have bought into the narrative that Black people are immune to the virus.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, as of May 4th there were 1,152, confirmed cases and 67,456 deaths in the United States. Here in Texas, there were 32,332 confirmed cases and 884 deaths (6,838 cases and 133 deaths in Harris County and 1,183 cases and 28 deaths in Fort Bend County).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that current data suggests that there is a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups because of COVID-19, especially among African Americans. According to the CDC, 33% of hospitalized patients were Black compared to 18% in the overall community.
If you think that the estimated deaths from COVID-19 are about to decrease, you are wrong.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has a COVID-19 model that it uses to predict the number of estimated deaths that will be caused because of the virus. They initially predicted that the estimated number of deaths would be 72,433 by August 4, 2020, but have since modified the estimate of deaths, projecting that there will be a peak, with an estimated 134,475 people dying due to COVID-19.
It should be no surprise that the Institute made those modifications, considering the number of states who have chosen to end their stay-at-home orders, reopen their states, and loosen their social distancing restrictions.
It does not help stop the spread of COVID-19, when you have elected leaders who think like Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick does related to putting the economy over lives.
During a recent follow-up interview with Fox News television host Tucker Carlson, Patrick made the following comments, where he doubled down on his desire to place more value on saving the American economy than saving American lives.
“I’m thankful that now we are now finally beginning to open up Texas and other states because it’s been long overdue,” Patrick said during the interview. “What I said when I was with you that night is there are more important things than living. And that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us. I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die, but man we’ve got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.”
It seems that many people are cosigning with Patrick, and carelessly taking the risk of possibly contracting the virus by avoiding social distancing, refusing to wear face coverings and being more concerned about temporary satisfaction and entertainment than their overall health and the overall health of their family, friends, neighbors or coworkers.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said it best on a day that saw the city of Houston match its highest single-day death total, a day after the governor’s decision to reopen the state.
“One of my concerns is, people are starting to behave as if the virus is gone. The virus is not gone. The virus is not under control. Let’s be very cautious, very careful as we proceed and move forward,” said Mayor Turner.
Mayor Turner went on to remind people to keep doing what they have been preaching to everyone across the Greater Houston area, which was to continue social distancing, wear face coverings and stay home. He also reminded people that there are still risks that exist within the community.
Many of those risks involve this virus having a disproportionate and adverse impact on the African American community, especially those with pre-existing conditions and are uninsured.
There are so many things that everyone can do to flatten the curve and help control the spread.
Stay 6 feet away from all people who are not in your household
Wear a face covering
Cover coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue
Avoid people who are visibly sick
Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same
Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available
Disinfect surfaces and other places touched often
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
This virus is real and should not be ignored. We are in the midst of one of the worst pandemics in the history of the world, so it is imperative that everyone focus on survival and safety, versus temporary satisfaction and entertainment.
Bottom line is this…just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Everyone should do everything in their power to save their own life and protect the lives of others.
Doing all these things will make a huge difference. Anything other than that is reckless and dangerous, or as Dr. King said, these dangerous decisions can be considered ignorant and stupid.
Don’t be ignorant and stupid!