Due to the rollout of vaccines and the decline in COVID-19 cases, everyone has begun to see the light at the end of a dark tunnel, and because of this hopeful sign, Governor Tate Reeves has removed Mississippi’s mask mandate; however, this does not mean we can relax just yet. As a community, as a state, and as a nation, we must all do our part to help keep COVID-19 numbers on the decline, which includes adhering to previous COVID-19 guidelines. In order to prevent another virus surge, Union residents should all remain vigilant during the coming months.
No one likes the COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions; however, in order to keep cases on the decline, we must still adhere to them. These means that we should still wear masks and social distance when needed even though Reeves has lifted the state mask mandate. By extension, local governments and businesses should all keep these mask mandates in place for the immediate future. In fact, nearby cities—Jackson, Meridian and Hattiesburg—have all chosen to leave their existing mask mandates in place. Furthermore, no business should prevent their customers from wearing a mask; the people who still wear masks simply want to protect themselves and those around them. Although many might claim that the vaccine rollout eliminates the need for masks, the vaccine is not currently available to everyone, and the case numbers simply have not declined enough to drop these public health practices. Moreover, many college and high school students will enjoy a much-needed spring break this time of year. During the break, everyone must exercise caution to prevent another surge of the virus. In a relatively short amount of time, we will no longer have to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. Things will return to normal, but right now, we must remain vigilant.
Although we still need to adhere to these practices, the rollout of the vaccines will help return things to normal. Recently, the state of Mississippi authorized everyone over the age of 50 and people with preexisting conditions as eligible to receive a vaccine, and all of these people should take advantage of this opportunity. Furthermore, soon after the authorization of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the Biden administration secured 200 million doses for the American people with plans to secure 100 million more. This all comes in addition to the doses already secured from Pfizer and Moderna. Hopefully, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will receive the green light soon as well. The Biden administration is currently pushing for every state to make all residents eligible for a vaccine by May 1st, and with any luck, the country will return to normalcy by July 4th. This certainly sounds like welcome news; however, these ambitious goals depend on citizens actually taking a vaccine, which is why everyone should take one when he or she becomes eligible. The science behind them has existed for over 30 years, and they have netted great results in preventing the virus. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine only requires a single dose. If anyone has doubts or fears about the vaccines, the best source of reassurance comes from local doctors and medical professionals (as long as they keep politics decisively out of this endeavor). If we trust our family’s health to these people, we should trust them about the vaccines as well. If people want life to return to normal, they should get vaccination against COVID-19. Hopefully, by the fall semester of this year after most people have gained immunity, and our lives can fully return to normal.
The light at the end of the tunnel depends on a few things. While the rollout of the vaccines take place, people should continue to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. If we do this, this combination will keep the case and hospital numbers down. As more people receive the vaccine, life will begin returning to normal. In just a year, we will hopefully live our lives without any worry of a deadly virus. As Union residents, we should all do our part even though our state government does not require this of us. The end of the pandemic has shown itself on the horizon, and we cannot veer off course now.