My dear reader, when you are surrounded by family and friends who have no intention of getting the COVID vaccination, just make it plain to them that “it is not for you, but for others.”

Each of us has the right to choose serious illness for ourself or even death, but not for others. When we choose not to protect ourselves that does not give us liberty to get in the space of others. Our freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins.

What a blessed people we are to have supplies enough to share with other countries, many with people crying out for medical supplies, oxygen and vaccines just to make it to another day. In our country we have people who are saying, “I refuse to get vaccinated and I do not care how much supplies we have. I could not care less about the half million people who have died from COVID-19.”

Have we not all seen the piles of dead bodies burning in the streets, cemeteries, crematoriums of India? Have you heard the pleas from the doctors and the citizens begging for help? Government officials are calling out to other countries for assistance. Some are dying in the streets in front of hospitals that are too full to take another sick person. Family members are trying to resuscitate other family members, which means they too will be infected. Most of them are operating with no protective gear.

What a devastating situation is taking place not just in India, but in many other poor countries suffering from the virus. What will the end look like in those countries? What will the end look like in this country?

How fortunate we are here in America that everyone who wants a vaccine can have one just for the asking. And yet a very high number of our people are saying, “not now.” According to some polls, Republicans are refusing the vaccine at a greater number than any other group, followed by Blacks.

Many Black people have listened to rumors and are not counting the cost of getting infected and having to be hospitalized and possibly dying. They have been forewarned that, due to factors beyond our control, we are going to be affected first.

We are the ones with jobs that put us on the front line. But most importantly, pre-existing conditions like hypertension, heart issues, diabetes, high cholesterol and lack of proper health care over the years are putting us at the front of the line to get COVID. Blacks are the low hanging fruit.

This topic is one that I continue to deal with because I have seen first hand what it does to families. My cousin Rev. Robert Ingram had been sick before COVID, so when he actually contracted the virus other family members did not think to get him tested. By the time it was announced that the Reverend had COVID, the entire family had it.

The children were all adults living elsewhere, in West Park, Florida. When the dad died, the three adult children along with a grand were hospitalized. Robert Jr. died a couple of weeks later. The other two were fighting for their lives. The dad and the brother’s bodies had to be laid out at the funeral home for weeks, until the daughter was able to be taken off the ventilator. She buried her family members and ended up back in the hospital, along with the younger brother. The two survived the horrible sickness.

Recently I received word that another local friend died from COVID. She refused to get the vaccine because she was living as safe as she and her husband could live. But they forgot that family members can spread the virus ... even little people.

It reminded me of what my son said one day, just as the pandemic hit, when he and his family came to visit. We could not resist hugging each other, and he said “Momma this is why it spreading like wildfire in families — because family members do not realize that they can give it to each other as well as to other people.” We both had already tested negative and felt safe at that time but did not behave carelessly anymore.

COVID has no boundaries. COVID has no special love for any group. COVID likes the lowest hanging fruit, especially if the condition is right.

Those who are going along with the big lie that this is just a hoax need to speak with some of my family members who contracted the virus and survived. My son says it is unlike any other sickness that he has ever had. He says it makes one feel like the walking dead. He is using his experience to inform others about what it was like for him and his wife.

He is an essential worker who has to be on the front line. It caught him by surprise because he was doing everything right and was very unhappy about others who did not have good health practices. COVID-19 is like a thief. The only difference is the light does not keep it out.

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright, founder and director of the African American Connection of the Performing Arts Inc. and a 2020 Heart of the Community Award recipient. She can be contacted at artsnow2019@gmail.com.

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