Stay masked and distanced as states lift restrictions

Dr. Thomas K. Lew

I was out on the streets of San Francisco last weekend when I noticed something I hadn’t seen in over a year: The hustle and bustle of city life was coming back. People were gathered outside bars and restaurants, crowded and unmasked. There were handshakes and hugs as they moved from one group of friends to the next. It seemed so … normal.

The difference was stark when I returned to work as a hospital physician the next day and witnessed my elderly patient with COVID-19 pass away after days of gasping. A grandfather, he had traveled from the Midwest to visit his family right after receiving his first vaccine shot — too soon to be protected. Within a week, he developed difficulty breathing.

Like many people across the nation, my patient believed the pandemic to be essentially over and the dangers of returning to normal life to be minimal. But the pandemic is not over. Tens of thousands of new cases are still being diagnosed and there is ominous talk about a “fourth wave.” We are so close to putting COVID-19 to bed, but we should not let up on our precautions just yet.

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