With a recent surge of COVID-19 cases, I wanted to talk about where we are at. COVID has become a political and societal issue influencing well into 2021 and most likely into 2022.

COVID-19 began in 2019 over in China as a new strain of the coronavirus. Its infectivity made it easy to spread, most likely making it into the United States by around January of 2020 with it reaching noticeable levels by March.

March is when most of the precautions in the United States rolled out in force. Mask mandates, furloughs, and quarantining all became par for the course.

I remember heading home around the middle of the March expecting a month off at most. I know better now.

To say that COVID-19 effected everyday life would probably undersell just how all-encompassing it had been — and still is. The economy tanked as nonessential personnel were asked to go home, grinding industry to a halt.

What many people were unaware of was the reduced usage of service industries, such as dining, had an impact on closely related industries.

Agriculture suddenly had too much supply compared to demand. Corn, diary, and meat production was soon overloaded with product it couldn’t sell. What was the result of this? The destruction of fields and the dumping of millions of gallons of milk.

This highlights how underutilized and underprepared — through no fault of their own — charities are. Millions of dollars of product were wasted instead of being sold or donated for a loss. Thousands were suddenly unemployed as discussed. Just a couple of highlights from the COVID-19 era.

It was not all doom and gloom. There was an inspiring national unity on social media as the virus soon became a burden on the current health infrastructure.

An outpouring of support for health care workers pulling long shifts in heavy restrictive equipment. Videos of city neighborhoods cheering as hospital shifts let out. In a time of isolation people came together however they could.

With that said, COVID-19 has represented the first pandemic in the age of “information.” Disease outbreaks are not a new occurrence.

The Spanish Flu of a hundred years ago was the template for how to handle COVID-19. Masks, social, distancing and closings were all common practices a hundred years ago.

The only difference between then and now is how receptive the public is to these measures. COVID-19 from the outset became a political issue instead of a public health one.

In an age of advanced technology, medical understanding, and instantaneous communication COVID-19 should have been a slam dunk to handle.

Instead, numerous government officials, when briefed about the severity of the disease, sold stock in travel industries, and bought stock in medical companies, and acted as if a public health crisis was not imminent.

As for the public, the access to the internet prompted a surge in individuals who could look into the disease themselves.

To scratch the surface of it, many individuals could research it. The validity of said research has created many trains of thought stemming from COVID-19 as a hoax or a biological weapon.

Along those lines, severe pushback, exacerbated by political moves of elected officials, made some against public safety measures under the guise of infringing on “American” values.

Granted, George Washington mandated inoculations, the most “invasive” form of public health measure in the early days of the country, so the most prominent beacon of American values was behind vaccines.

It’s an uncertain future. The delta variant has spiked infections to the some of the highest numbers of the pandemic with a large proportion of the population hesitant to take available vaccines.

Without a proper herd immunity, COVID-19 will continue to mutate into new forms, prolong the very measures most people want to end. With at least one vaccine with FDA approval, the end is in sight.

The United States has always united in times of crisis, this can be more one example if we can trust in each other, and sacrifice a little for the greater whole.