An Unfathomable Number

When COVID-19 first came into our national consciousness more than a year ago, it was just a blip on the news. The prospect that a viral bug originating halfway around the world would alter every aspect of our lives seemed inconceivable.

And even if the virus did come here, America was not some third-world country. We had confidence that the world’s best medical care system and scientific minds would work together to prevent something as seemingly trivial as a mere virus from overwhelming our nation.

But one year — and 500,000 American lives — later, that which was unimaginable has become a nightmarish reality.

To be sure, the unprecedented incompetence and outright malevolence of the previous administration contributed substantially to amplify and worsen the problems brought on by the pandemic.

But even in a best-case scenario, the virus would have upended every aspect of our lives. Although the politicization of the virus contributed to our nation’s suffering, the pandemic still would have caused death and economic turmoil to an unprecedented extent.

The official count of 500,000 COVID deaths was surpassed this week. Let’s hope that as we move forward and as the daily numbers of deaths and hospitalizations continue to decline, we have learned that despite our high-tech lifestyle, we are no match for Mother Nature.

The pandemic has exposed many problems in our country, including the inadequacy of our health care system, especially for minority groups, and the danger of politicizing scientific information.

Hopefully, we have recognized our multitude of mistakes and we will make the necessary investments in our health care and pandemic detection systems to ensure that we will be ready for the next pandemic. 

As the philosopher succinctly put it, those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.

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