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COVID-19 is not just a passing fad, it’s still a threat | READER COMMENTARY

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab.
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. (NIAID/TNS/TNS)

Like the 2011 hit single “Gangnam Style,” the coronavirus arrived in the United States from Asia, caused a mass hysteria for several months, and is now being ignored by the American public. With 2 million people infected, over 110,000 deaths and cases still spiking in nearly half of the country, what changed? Did we get bored of the pathogen? Was COVID-19 just a spring fad? Like the catchy tune, COVID-19 once crammed the airwaves and evoked a physical response, but instead of a silly horse-riding dance, Americans stocked up on groceries, bought masks, lined up to get tested, and sheltered in place. After two and a half months of being responsible, selfless citizens, the nation grew tired and began their migration back to the “old normal.”

Two days ago, I questioned a friend in Connecticut who was hosting a party and he texted me back, “Didn’t you hear? Corona is OVER.” A few hours later, my father-in-law told me that he took a walk in Riverside Park in New York City and virtually nobody was wearing a mask. After peaking at 84% in the beginning of April, only 56% of Americans claimed to be avoiding small gatherings in early June, according to a recent Gallup poll. We have moved on from COVID-19 even though the virus has grown closer to us (“Gov. Hogan criticizes Baltimore’s reopening pace, calls retail restrictions ‘absolutely absurd,'” June 10).

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Unlike “Gangnam Style,” a second wave is likely coming. In a report from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, a team of pandemic experts expect the virus to spread for another 18-24 months in the United States. Many countries are now relaxing quarantine rules despite rising rates of infection. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “That’s millions and millions of infections worldwide. And it isn’t over yet. And it’s condensed in a very, very small time frame. Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of it."

We can no longer afford to treat the coronavirus like an overplayed one-hit wonder and must listen to Dr. Fauci’s lyrics and do his dance, standing 6 feet apart wearing masks.

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Andrew Ginsburg, Southport, Conn.

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