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It’s our fight

By Staff | Sep 3, 2021

In nearby Cape Coral, City Councilmember Jessica Cosden reached out to the community this week with a message from the heart: As the pandemic continues, please stay vigilant when it comes to protecting yourself and others.

The elected official tested positive for COVID-19 late last week after her 11-year-old daughter had flu-like symptoms and was sent home from school. A few days later, Councilmember Cosden’s immediate family, including her husband and two sons, 9 and 2, all tested positive for COVID-19.

She and her husband were fully vaccinated. They wore masks in public places.

Her symptoms, nonetheless, became debilitating and concerning, so much so she wound up in the ER. Her greatest fear, though, was for her symptomatic — and sick — little ones.

“To people who are vaccinated, don’t get lazy, or complacent,” Councilmember Cosden said. “I still followed CDC guidelines at my job, but out and about in my personal life I was less cautious because I thought I was protected by the vaccine.”

She said she is thankful to have received the shot.

She wonders what her condition would be if she had not.

“It’s scary to think about,” she said on Tuesday. “If I’m so sick today that I may have to go to the hospital, who knows what would happen (if unvaccinated).”

Lee Health has continually provided an answer to that question: The symptoms likely would have been worse. The outcome, potentially, much, much worse.

“We are seeing patients sicker, and they’re getting sicker faster,” President and CEO of Lee Health Dr. Larry Antonucci said this week. “We’re also seeing increased numbers of children. At our Golisano Children’s Hospital, our Emergency Department yesterday (Monday) saw 265 patients, and that’s more than double than what we would normally see. Of those patients, 135 had COVID symptoms. This is a disease that’s affecting everyone, of every age, primarily unvaccinated.”

Fewer than 10% of Lee Health’s patients with COVID-19 are those who have been vaccinated, officials there added.

Editorial space on this page is usually allocated to our opinion but this week we are going to highlight what those in our community are telling us:

Will an over-the-counter cloth mask prevent you from getting the virus?

It will not. It can, however, mitigate your exposure and any exposure to those around you should you be infected.

Will getting the vaccine prevent you from getting the virus?

It will not. No vaccine is 100 percent effective. It will, however, greatly lessen the chance of you getting infected and so possibly infecting others. It will lessen the chance of serious illness should the virus “break through.”

Now we do hear what those on “the other side” are saying, too.

The similarities: Masks don’t prevent infection and neither do vaccines.

The difference: So stay out of my personal life and let me decide for me and my family.

Fair enough. Count us among those who question government intrusion on personal rights — and count us among those who understand that most mandates come with enough loopholes that those who don’t want to comply can still opt out.

But count us also among those who choose their battles for make no mistake, we are a country at war.

But it’s not with each other.

It’s not across a political divide.

It’s not “us” against “them,” with each of us defining those shifting pronouns.

It’s our community against a common enemy that is on the march, taking prisoners, and leaving far too many of our friends and neighbors on the battlefield.

Sometimes even conscientious objectors suit up for the common good.

This is one of those times.

Get the shot. Not because you have to, but because political battles can be fought on fronts that don’t put “civilians” at risk and vaccination is the best weapon we have at present.

One more thing:

Though we said this space was dedicated this week to community conversation, we will close with one opinion of our own, addressing and likely — hopefully — shaking up the less-discussed, seldom-criticized battalion rattling its sabers from the sidelines of the mask-vaccine battleground.

Hypocrisy, like politics, is hampering this fight.

If you’re calling for mask mandates and mandatory vaccinations and you’re not vaccinated, put up or shut up. You’re part of the problem.

If you philosophically support the “universal good” of such things as free health care, guaranteed minimum income, student loan forgiveness, et al, and you’re not vaccinated, put up or shut up. You’re part of the problem.

So you, too: Get the shot.

Together — together — we can beat this thing.

–Citizen editorial