COVID 19 is not over, yet people are returning to their version of normalcy from before the pandemic. They are throwing caution to the wind with large parties, travel, and work events. They have tossed out the idea of social distancing and less people wear masks now than ever.
This is the reason why COVID 19 cases are skyrocketing.
We are currently experiencing the worst spike yet, but people are insisting that it’s not a big deal. Hospital rates are so high in many places that people who need to go to the hospital for other reasons are having trouble finding rooms. People are operating under the delusion that the omicron variant is nothing to worry about, a myth that doctors and scientists are tirelessly trying to dispel. People are so tired of not seeing their loved ones that they have retreated into a state of denial about the fact that we are still in a severe worldwide pandemic.
On top of that, anti-maskers are still alive and well and anti-vaxxers are doing their best to continue and spread misinformation. People are going for jogs and bike rides without masks, as if the slipstream suddenly doesn’t exist anymore. (For those of you who don’t know, the “slipstream” refers to the fact that when you exercise without a mask on, you leave a trail with a circumference of around 30 feet behind you of the virus and anything else you expel through heavy breathing and sweat, infecting the people around and behind you who pass through it. Yes, you can spread the virus even if you don’t think or know you have it.)
How does empathy play into this?
We live in an age where empathy is regarded as the supreme form of being. People who are empathetic are praised because they possess the sensibilities to be able to put themselves in other people’s shoes. Empathy is being looked at as a cure for every civil injustice that our country faces.
Why, then, do people insist on contributing to the spread of the virus?
People are likening COVID 19 to diseases like the flu and chickenpox. However, anyone who does their research understands that Covid 19 is monumentally more dangerous than either of those, and many other, diseases. Let’s take chickenpox, for example. Before the chickenpox vaccine, mortality rate was approximately 1 per 100,000 children (0.001%), 2.7 per 100,000 teens (0.0027%,) and 25.2 per 100,000 adults (0.0252%). From the years 1990-1996, 103 people died from the chickenpox.
Compare this to COVID 19, and you’ll see that COVID has a far higher mortality rate. Wordwide, it kills about 3.4% of reported cases. In 2020, COVID caused approximately 377,883 deaths and over almost 400,000 deaths in 2021.
From sheer numbers, it proves that Covid 19 is monumentally more dangerous than the chickenpox. In short, the chickenpox had an average of less than .02% mortality, while covid has about 3% worldwide. 103 people died from chickenpox over the course of four years, while 78,000 people have died from Covid 19 so far.
Additionally, it’s not just mortality rates we need to look at; it’s hospitalizations. COVID 19, hospitalizations are through the roof for both children and adults. The risk of hospitalization, severe illness, and death is also much higher in those who are unvaccinated.
Looking at this in relation to empathy
In a society that prides empathy so emphatically, why are people disregarding the health and safety of others to give into selfish whims? We all know by now that wearing masks is to protect others from you. Why are so many people making the conscious choice to disregard the safety of others and go for a run or walk into a store without a mask on?
For instance, if you decide to be irresponsible and go to a party where you could potentially (and, in all honesty, most likely) catch COVID 19, that is your choice. But, if you then decide to go for a walk without a mask on, you could be spreading COVID 19 to everybody you pass. This includes people who are being responsible and wearing masks, are vaccinated, are high-risk, or live with someone who is high risk. Why aren’t people using their empathy they claim to value so highly when making decisions that affect those around them? Don’t make the choice for others on whether or not they catch COVID – especially those who are taking the necessary precautions.
So, I have to ask where the empathy is.
Where is your empathy for your friends?
Do you not care whether or not they get sick? If they are willing to put themselves at risk, that’s their choice. But you do not have to participate in it. If they really are your friends, they will understand you wanting to stay safe. Right now, saying “no”, is showing that you care.
Where is your empathy for the frontline workers?
The attitude of “if I catch it, I catch it”, is doing serious harm to the well-being of the hard-working nurses and doctors. So many of these healthcare professionals are suffering from PTSD and other mental health disorders because of the patients they have to witness dying day after day. If you consider yourself to be an empathetic person, why aren’t you doing what you can to protect the well-being of the medical professionals?
Where is your empathy for the patients who are dying all alone in hospitals every, single day?
Covid patients are not allowed to have visitors. There are so many heartbreaking stories of loved ones standing at windows, separated by a thick pane of glass, unable to hug their dying family members or friends while the life seeps out in their laboured gulps of air. Where is your empathy towards them?
For those of you who still believe that Covid 19 is a hoax, where’s your empathy towards the people who do believe in it?
Beware: doctors’ empathy towards you is wearing thin, as well.
It’s a little thing called compassion fatigue. This is where doctors are getting frustrated and burned out with their patients who got severe COVID cases from taking unnecessary risks. This lake of sympathy is especially abundant towards patients who refused to get vaccinated for non-medical reasons. It’s the best way to protect yourself, others, and to reach herd immunity, but there are still many people stubbornly refusing to partake in the easiest way to get back to ‘normal’.
Many people like to brag about how empathetic they are. Yet, these are the very people who are irresponsibly, consistently, stubbornly putting themselves and others at risk. There’s irony in the bragging and self-righteousness of the people who consider themselves to be so empathetic. An attitude like that signifies self-centeredness, not empathy. Real empathy comes from concern towards others because of elevated feelings and emotions. These people with higher levels of empathy are the ones who are vaccinated, limiting the people they interact with, and wearing masks when they must venture out. They do this because they understand that this is the way to heal the ill society that is adding so much pain into their lives.
People who preach about empathy are correct — it can be the biggest healer. But, saying that you are empathetic is not enough; you must actively engage in it. It is hypocrisy to talk about it or to think that feeling emotions is qualifies you as having high levels of empathy. Help stop the spread of Covid 19 through caring for those around you.
My name is Andrea and I live in Los Angeles, California. By day, I am an actor and by night I am working towards a degree in nutritional science.