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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Viruses are back. Have we learned nothing?

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Tj Favela/The Collegian
Tj Favela/The Collegian
Tj Favela/The Collegian

The outbreaks of monkeypox and polio in the U.S. feel like some sickening kind of deja vu.

In the past six months, these two diseases have reappeared in the American sphere. It is almost insulting to have to deal with these new potential ways to get sick as well as COVID-19, which is still a problem. If these diseases are handled in the same way as COVID, that spells bad news. 

Currently, there are almost 17,000 cases of monkeypox in the U.S., and that number is steadily increasing from its initial discovery in America during May. Texas alone has over 1,000 cases. Despite that, we still don’t have a clear view of what we should look out for because governmental forums haven’t addressed it as an outbreak prominently. Polio was just recently detected through sewage in New York, evidence of a local spreading of the virus.

The information about these new diseases isn’t being dispersed and advertised properly. Because of that, it’s hard to know exactly what to be careful of. The most generally known details about monkeypox are how it’s spread through close contact and that it causes rashes. With polio, all that’s generally known is how it can cause paralysis. Some may not even know it’s contagious. This is incredibly dangerous because it’s exactly this kind of murky information that led to COVID getting as bad as it did in such a short period of time.

This feels oddly familiar to the beginning of the pandemic when all the public knew was that COVID was spread through coughing and it could take away a person’s sense of smell and taste. The country is still going through the pandemic, and the government is supposed to know better now. But the slow, lackluster responses to these new viruses show that nothing has changed and now the list of potential risks just keeps climbing.

America handled COVID poorly, let’s not mince words. The government was slow to react to the initial onset of the spreading disease, and then the public made a spectacle of politicizing the most basic precautions.

People took to the streets to complain about their rights while people were dying in beds because precautions weren’t taken seriously. Many lives were lost, and now it seems we’re going to be right back into the flames with these new outbreaks.

These illnesses, specifically polio, were thought to have been already eradicated in the U.S., and it’s angering to see that they are coming back, especially after we’ve been put through the constant shadow of COVID for the past two years. Now we have to deal with the knowledge that every time you step out outside, it’s not just one major disease out there — there’s three.

With Dr. Fauci slated to step down at the end of the year, it begs the question: Where do we go from here? He was treated by the government as a figurehead who could combat the pandemic himself. But he’s just one man,  a man beaten down by the expectations of the public as well as a sudden pandemic that left health officials understaffed and stretched thin. And now, he’s heading out of office. America will be left without a public figure giving us the information we need in such uncertain times. 

Plenty of capable people could replace him, of course, and what’s most important is prioritizing the health of Americans. But with new viruses cropping up, that’s a difficult task for anyone. What needs focus are the vaccines and the cures for these viruses so that we can get healthy as quickly as possible.

As it stands now, another lockdown doesn’t seem necessary. But considering these viruses are also caused by contact with others, a lockdown almost seems inevitable if they aren’t gotten under control.

As unfair as it feels, it’s imperative to stay vigilant and informed. Wash your hands, cover your mouth and keep your distance from sick people. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly what was being said before the whole world was locked in for a year. Here’s hoping we learned our lesson.

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