Like a bad dream, COVID-19 has invaded our reality in 2020 shattering forever our concept of normalcy. Worldwide, COVID-19 has physically attacked at least 55 million people. In our country, more than 11 million have been attacked. Of that number, this microscopic predator has claimed more than 260, 000 lives, showing no mercy as victims spend their final moments in the most cruel and sad way — alone — isolated from family and friends. Unapologetically COVID-19 heaps indignities and trauma on the families of its victims; as grieving and celebration of life closures are replaced with graveside moments, impersonal burials and painful guilt as family members must hastily retreat into isolation and survival mode.

In the wake of COVID-19, our economy is tanking. Many stand in long unemployment and food lines. National stimulus benefits have ended while rents, mortgage, utilities and other bills are past due without additional benefits in sight. Our hospitals strain under COVID-19’s relentless assault as admissions increase outpacing hospital capacity. Courageous and dedicated workers approaching their physical and emotional limits, sound the alarm that the death they are seeing is real, not exaggerated, and not a hoax.

In an adjacent space, scientists armed with training and years of experience work nonstop to find a defense against this lethal killer. They confide that a cure is elusive but there are vaccines on the horizon. In fact, a light can be seen at the end of the proverbial tunnel; the length of which can only be speculated. However research and perhaps divine intervention has already offered a lifeline. The simple acts of wearing a well-fitting mask, frequent hand-washing and not congregating are effective safety measures until vaccines are in play. And just before a sigh of relief can be exhaled, that life-line is hijacked. Something as simple as wearing a mask becomes a symbol of inconvenience, an incriminating fashion statement and the enemy of citizens’ rights. So, as protestors assert their right to go maskless, COVID-19 quickens its relentless assault and the death totals rise. More than 1,000 defenseless souls are claimed every day in our country.

How did we get here? How did the most powerful nation and leader of the free world find itself leading only in the rate at which COVID-19 is ending lives and destroying the health of its citizens? Some would say poor leadership. But is that the whole truth? We live in a democracy founded on Christian principles. Our greatness lies in our allegiance to God, country and to each other — not exclusively to any one leader. If we have forgotten that then that explains why we have been unable to come together to protect each other? To the extent that this is true, each of us must take some responsibility for the plight to which we find ourselves.

We should not be here! We must remember our covenant to love our neighbor as ourselves. We must remember that it is our pursuit of “truth” that has kept our country strong and free. We must remember that our word is the true measure of who we are. We must remember that kindness is not a sign of weakness, but is a symbol of greatness modeled by the “God” in whom all trust was placed when our great country was founded.

When each of us can remember and renew our commitment to these fundamentals and embrace our Christian covenant to love each other as our creator loves each of us; then we will all be able to work together, put on our masks, and put behind us this nightmare that is COVID-19.

Beatrice Walker is a Henderson resident.