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Column: In the blink of an eye, COVID surge calls for renewed vigilance
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I was thinking we were returning back to normal last week, whatever that is.

The Olympic Games were getting underway in Tokyo, and the beginning of school was quickly approaching.

What a difference a week makes.

Simone Biles, one of our most celebrated Olympians ever, decided to pull out of the competition citing her mental health. Being a competitor on the international stage is tough. When the International Olympic Committee decided to postpone the games last year, it was not as if our athletes picked up their bags and said, “See you next year.”

Some of these folks have been preparing for years. Depending on their sport, their bodies are like well-tuned machines. They have rehearsed and exercised day after day. There is a lot of pressure being called one of the greatest of all time, and at 24, Biles had been staying in competitive shape on the national team since 2012.

Quite frankly, admitting the pressures of competing took a lot of strength. It would be hard enough without the lights and cameras of the world focused on you. I wish her all the best.

Then, an ugly monster called COVID-19 raised its head again, including at the Olympics. When you look back on our early wars, there were many people who died from exposure to people from another part of the country. About two-thirds of the casualties in the Civil War were from disease.

I’m no expert, but when you bring together people from every corner of the world, you run the risk of new exposure. As travel began to resume, there were people exposed to one another with different strains of the virus.

The worst seems to be the Delta variant, which is more contagious than anything we’ve seen.

On some social media sites, such as Facebook, users will post questions like, “Do you know anyone who has died from COVID-19?”

My answer is a resounding “yes.”

I know many people in my community who are dead and gone because of the virus. Now, if you ask me if I know anyone who has died from the vaccine, the answer is “no.” 

I have known people who had a day or two of soreness in their arm where the vaccine was administered, but that’s it.

There are vaccinations that are required before children go to school. Almost all of those diseases have been eliminated, at least in this country. They used to come to school and administer them.

I’ve seen more and more grown folks who have declined to get the COVID-19 vaccine. I can’t figure that out. 

My doctor recommended I take the shot. I did, and I’m fine. That doesn’t mean the same for anyone else, but doctors read medical journals and have valid information to justify their recommendations. They do not read it on some bogus website.

I don’t want to wear a mask again, but if I am required by my employer or some other entity, I will do so.

I am amazed when I see videos of people getting combative with flight attendants who tell them to wear a mask. That plane belongs to the airline, and they make the rules.

A flight attendant’s primary job is not serving coffee or soft drinks, but to ensure the safety of the passengers. If somebody takes a swing at a flight attendant, they should be thrown off the plane.

Here’s to a better week ahead.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on

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