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To win the war against COVID, everyone must do their patriotic duty | READER COMMENTARY

Army soldiers line up during a ceremony to send off military doctors to Ho Chi Minh City to help with treating COVID-19 patients in Hanoi, Vietnam, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. Vietnam's largest metropolis Ho Chi Minh City has enabled a strict lockdown order to help curb the recent outbreak of the pandemic. (Bui Cuong Quyet/VNA via AP)
Army soldiers line up during a ceremony to send off military doctors to Ho Chi Minh City to help with treating COVID-19 patients in Hanoi, Vietnam, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. Vietnam's largest metropolis Ho Chi Minh City has enabled a strict lockdown order to help curb the recent outbreak of the pandemic. (Bui Cuong Quyet/VNA via AP) (Bui Cuong Quyet/AP)

In the aftermath of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, we are reminded that we depend on our leaders and ourselves to protect the nation against attacks or invasions by our foes. We see clearly that a pandemic is also an invasion. The COVID-19 virus is invisible to the naked eye but, make no mistake, it is an invader (”Maryland surpasses 10,000 COVID-19 deaths; Hogan orders state flags lowered to half-staff in remembrance,” Sept. 16).

Consider our responses following previous attacks against the U.S. On Dec. 7, 1941, we lost nearly 2,500 Americans when Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor. After nearly a decade of reluctance to take part in thwarting fascism abroad, the Americans followed President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call to defeat the Axis in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Once engaged in the effort, our commitment was colossal. Millions of men and women volunteered or were drafted into the armed forces. Women ran farms and worked in factories. No one could buy a new car. Food and gasoline was rationed. Our scientists traveled hither and yon to perfect nuclear energy before the Nazis could. Also after 9/11, we came together by submitting to airport checks and ceding some of our privacy to protect the homeland from foreign terrorists. When we were threatened, we came together and were unified in protecting all of America.

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More than 400,000 Americans died during World War II. Meanwhile, 600,000 Americans have already died from the COVID-19 invasion. In fact, more Americans have died from COVID-19 than in both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam combined. Only the 1918-1920 Spanish flu pandemic, when 500,000 Americans died (and 50 million people perished worldwide), has come close to wreaking as much havoc upon Americans as COVID-19. Unfortunately for those victims, they did not have a vaccine to combat their attacker. Today, we do.

President Joe Biden and virtually the entire medical and scientific establishment are united in urging all Americans to get one of the COVID vaccines and mask up when appropriate. They are not asking us to risk our lives abroad. We don’t have to run into a burning building. We don’t have to defend a corrupt foreign government. There is no overreach in their mandates or recommendations. Our president and scientists want us to understand that none of us should be at liberty to infect another person by refusing to get vaccinated, or by not wearing a mask on an airplane. Our overwhelmed hospitals have limited ICU beds, which is why our overburdened doctors and nurses are begging us to be good citizens and get vaccinated.

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Our COVID vaccines were invented and manufactured in record time. They are the product of cutting-edge genetics and medical science. They work and are safe for the overwhelming majority of people. And they need to be administered throughout the globe, lest new, deadly variants arise and spread again here.

Get vaccinated! It’s the patriotic thing to do.

Joe Garonzik, Baltimore

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