What must be said to convince people that this virus is real and deadly?

Published 10:15 pm Thursday, January 21, 2021

Tell us. Tell us what needs to be said and done for everyone to realize just how deadly this virus remains? Tell us and we will write it, it really big letters.

On Jan. 29, Warren County will mark the 10-month anniversary of when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed here. As of Thursday, 3,619 cases have been confirmed.

But what is more tragic, is that as of Thursday, 101 Warren County residents — our friends, our family members, those we sit in church with — have died. They are gone, taken by a virus that is not imaginary or fake. They have been killed by a ruthless virus that is both widespread and controllable.

What will it take for us as a community to realize that we can no longer afford to ignore steps taken by community leaders — steps based in science in data — to not just protect others from contracting the virus but to prevent more loss of life?

Do you think those 100 families who have now lost someone care if you find wearing a mask intrusive? Do you think they care what you think about measures to keep people physically distanced?

No, they don’t. They want their loved ones back. They want their wives, their husbands, their grandparents, their children to be safe, sound and alive.

“It’s unfortunate there are people who think this is made up, but it’s real,” Vicksburg physician Dr. Carlos Latorre said in an interview with The Post. “What I tell people is take the precautions to the best of their ability. Some people take precautions and others choose not to do anything. I think if somebody is ill (with the virus) and has a rough time with it or lost loved ones, that will make a believer out of anyone. It’s sad it has to be that way.”

When local, state and federal health officials urged — rather outright begged — people to avoid large family gatherings during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, some followed their advice, while far too many ignored it.

Today, weeks later, we are continuing to pay for their poor choices both in the high number of cases and days of deaths.

“Christmas was a disaster,” Vicksburg physician Dr. Dan Edney said in a recent interview. “We had way too many older folks gathering with their families and had a lot of family transmissions. A lot of older folks got sick and a few have died. We’re starting to calm down from that Christmas wave but the numbers are still, statewide, atrocious. Not as bad as they were but still too high. The death rate is still too high.”

To see the impact of this virus — and our resistance to fully abiding by COVID-19 measures — all you have to do is look in the obituaries published in the newspaper, and pass any community funeral home. You can see it for yourself in the names published in print and those etched in granite in our cemeteries.

This virus is real and it has killed far more than it ever should have. We can do better. We must do better. Far too many lives depend on it.