**FILE** Courtesy of Virginia Department of Health via Twitter

Since COVID-19 took over the world more than two years ago, the impact on lives and the government’s response have been nothing short of conflicting. With hundreds of thousands of deaths all across the country, the demand for a government response grew louder. But it was former president Donald Trump who threw caution to the wind and set the stage for a pandemic that swept the country like wildfire and continues to inflame the attitudes of Americans today.

“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine,” he told Americans back in February 2020. His optimism or stubbornness to deal with the deadly problem allowed him to speak more untruths, including “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle; it will disappear.”

In the meantime, federal and local governments issued mandates to close non-essential businesses and require masks. At the same time, health organizations worked feverishly to create vaccines to stop the virus’s spread and save lives. It appeared to be working until the virus mutated, resulting in a milder case of the Delta variant but a more contagious case of the Omicron variant. 

As a result, Americans still live with mask mandates, social distancing, more vaccinations, booster shots and a growing hostile climate. 

No one can adequately predict when the pandemic will be over or “disappear.” Its longevity has given rise to an aggressive movement among anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and anti-government officials protestors who oppose efforts to keep people safe. 

While the virus is more severe in adults than in children, COVID-19 is causing preventable suffering among youngsters, with about 1.9 million children ages 5 to 11 diagnosed with COVID-19, resulting in hospitalizations and deaths. 

Too many children are suffering from depression, aggression and suicide. Meanwhile, parents’ mean-spirited responses to COVID-19 restrictions and virulent attacks, even against teachers, exacerbate the suffering children are experiencing. 

Some would have believed that a pandemic would bring people together, not tear them apart. This virus has shown just how divided the nation is, and no vaccine will fix it nor a mask that will disguise it. There’s much work to be done.

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