by Tatum Goetting

The COVID crisis is not over, and Missourians should not act as if it is.
We’re tired of masks and social distancing and everything seems somewhat close to normal now. At the gas station, movie theater and places of worship, masks are gone.

Yet the latest numbers show a steady flow of new cases every week. According to Missouri Health, there were 1,195 new COVID-19 cases in Kansas City the week of July 25 which puts the city at an average of 171 new cases a day.

A clear way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 cases in Kansas City is to get vaccinated. Plain and simple. Vaccination rates in Missouri have been embarrassingly low in comparison to other states in the country.

As of last week, Jackson County was in the ‘high risk’ category of community transmission of COVID-19. And, relating to that statistic, an estimated 39.5% of Kansas Citians have fully completed the vaccination process. This is in comparison to the national average of 49.7% of the population being fully vaccinated.

In order for infections to go down, in order to see loved ones safely, and in order to get back to normal life, we need to start taking responsibility for our actions.

Gov. Parson recently launched a vaccine incentive program for all Missourians. The prizes range from cash to education savings accounts. What is troubling about vaccine incentive programs in general is the idea that people have to be persuaded to get something that could potentially save their lives. How is a life-saving, free vaccination against one of the deadliest viruses in the world today not enough? And if not for yourself, why not get it to keep family members safe?

Parson, while he is doing what he can on social media to urge people to get vaccinated, needs to come up with a better plan that doesn’t center around greed.

Misinformation, like infertility among women, and the idea that it could make someone magnetic have been debunked by the CDC time and time again. People need to learn how to put their trust in scientists and science. Without that, this country will not move forward.

Steve Edwards, the President of CoxHealth in Springfield, Mo., regularly tweets about the ongoing intake of COVID patients at CoxHealth. From the past week, numbers have been all over the place, but the amount of their patients who have tested positive remains in the mid-100s.

People are still dying. While these deaths are just more numbers that the majority of Americans have become numb to, they were people, too, who had families and friends.

The world has been hurting this past year and a half and it’s time for some healing.

That being said, in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus for good, mask mandates must be put into effect, especially with new variants. Along with that, businesses small and large need to collectively hold every customer accountable in requiring a mask.

Another more radical solution would be for businesses to require proof of vaccination or else require masks for their customers. This would prevent the spread and hold unvaccinated Missourians accountable.

Missourians need to hold each other accountable in order to stop this virus from spreading even more. While vaccination rates are continuously rising in Kansas City, preventable deaths continue to happen.