Stay Safe, Oklahoma
New Year brings renewed hope for an end to the pandemic
Photos by Jag_cz - stock.adobe.com
For the majority of us, 2020 was a difficult year—perhaps one of the most challenging years on record. Some folks have said 2020 felt like such a long year that it might as well have been a decade. As we welcome a new year, we have renewed hopes for an effective vaccine and the end of the pandemic.
Last January, COVID-19 seemed to be an overseas issue. We worried about American citizens who were in China and other affected countries, but there were no known reported cases in Oklahoma. We then saw countries like Italy struggle with the virus; that seemed closer to home given many similarities, but it was still a disease that appeared to be unfolding overseas. Soon after we saw our coasts ravaged by the virus along with the deployment of USNS Mercy to Los Angeles and USNS Comfort to New York City. Seeing those two hospital ships being deployed was a powerful reminder that the war against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was being declared.
All of us have given up so much and have lost so much because of this pandemic. For some, it may have been a Thanksgiving holiday spent via phone and video calls; for other less fortunate families it may have been a couple of empty seats at the Christmas table. We have thanked our healthcare heroes for being the frontline workers against the virus. But we should also be thankful to the workers who kept our grocery stores open and stocked, who ensured that the supply chain didn’t break down, and who ensured that we had electricity back right after a major storm. In the midst of this pandemic we have also been able to see how our people have come together.
Several of us have become numb to COVID-19 stories, news reports, or guideline updates. The fight against COVID-19 should be compared to a marathon instead of a short race. We have to do our part in slowing down the spread of the virus until we have a vaccine that is available to the masses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that we all wash our hands often, avoid close contact, and wear masks (covering both nose and mouth) when around others, among other precautions.
Some of the more obvious hand washing protocols include before eating or preparing food, after using a restroom, or changing a diaper. Other recommendations include washing your hands before touching your face, after handling your mask, and after leaving a public place. Soap and water are the preferred method, however if they are not available, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol should be used.
When possible, you should avoid close contact with people who do not live in your household by maintaining at least 6 feet of distance. This includes crowded airport terminals, grocery stores, and church buildings, to list a few. Keeping this distance is especially important for people who are at a higher risk of getting sick.
Several businesses have required masks while others have encouraged people to wear a mask, but don’t require them. Masks are important since most people who develop COVID-19 illness have no symptoms for the first few days and tend to transmit the virus without knowing that they are doing so. Masks are not a substitute for social distancing and vice versa. Surfaces that are frequently touched should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily.
We all hope that things will soon go back to the way they used to be. The past year has been hard on all of us. Most of us miss events like large weddings, baby showers, graduations, and holiday celebrations. We start this new year with renewed hope and high expectations that we will soon be gathering with friends and family to celebrate occasions with the people we love and cherish. Until then, stay safe Oklahoma and Happy New Year!
As of Dec. 18: Total number of COVID-19 infections in the USA was 17,326,926. Total number of COVID-19 infections in Oklahoma was 251,760. Number of available ICU hospital beds in Oklahoma was 54 out of 1038 with 460 patients in COVID-19 ICU beds. Number of deaths in the US 312,524. Number of deaths in Oklahoma 2,161.