I constantly overhear people saying they are “over COVID!” I get it. Folks are tired of living in fear, masking up, and changing their way of life. However, even though we may be “over it,” COVID is surely not over us.
Across the country and even in New York City, mask mandates are being loosened as more and more New Yorkers are doing their civic duty by getting vaccinated AND boosted. More New Yorkers realize that even though they may not be in a high-risk group, their loved ones and neighbors may have pre-existing conditions and/or may be immunocompromised and need the collective to do their part to help decrease the spread of COVID by getting vaccinated and boosted.
As the variants of COVID come and go and more and more people catch COVID and move through the varying symptoms—ranging from sore throats and headaches to full-on hospital visits due to lack of breath or feeling like they cannot move a muscle—the fear of COVID seems to be drastically decreasing in so many communities.
By no means am I advocating for living in fear. However, I am advocating for staying vigilant. I recently traveled and noticed hundreds of maskless people in the airport. They were either wearing their mask as a chin strap, which is completely ineffective, or they had it barely covering their mouths with their nose exposed, which is hardly effective at all. We must remember that thousands of people are still dying from COVID each day. That is, family, friends, and community members are losing a loved one due to a virus that could be curtailed if we stay vigilant even when it is slightly uncomfortable.
For those who are interested in reflecting on those lost to COVID, the Brooklyn Museum currently has an exhibit, “Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: A Crack in the Hourglass, An Ongoing COVID-19 Memorial” which runs until June 26, 2022. The exhibit is described as: “a modified robotic plotter deposits grains of hourglass sand onto a black surface to recreate the images of those lost due to COVID-19. After each portrait is completed, the surface tilts and the same sand is recycled into the next portrait, echoing the collective and ongoing nature of the pandemic.”
If you would like to submit a photograph of someone you lost to COVID, you may do so at www.acrackinthehourglass.net, accompanied by a personalized dedication. Ultimately, the resulting memorials will be available, via livestream and in archive form, on the project’s website, https://memorialCOVID-lozano-hemmer.web.app/archive/
Until we are officially on “the other side” of COVID and its many variants, please remember to stay safe, wash your hands, maintain six feet, wear your mask, and test yourself if you can. I want the Amsterdam News family to continue to stay healthy despite these scary times.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.