COVID-19 Update

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Academy News are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Academy.

Source: C. Ken Williams, MS, JD, AAFS Treasurer

The number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to spike worldwide. There are currently more than 66.7 million positive COVID-19 cases globally and more than 1.53 million COVID-19-related deaths. The United States leads the way with more than 14.7 million positive cases and more than 281 thousand COVID-19-related deaths. The numbers are startling, and they unfortunately continue to rise. The impact of this virus is felt by all. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, nationality, age, income, or social/professional status.

In order to slow the spread of the virus, we all have to do our part! The virus has been a concern for nearly an entire year. COVID-19 was initially reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019, and it was declared a global health emergency on January 30, 2020. I realize the duration of the virus may have caused many of you to suffer from COVID fatigue, but I urge you to protect yourselves, loved ones, friends, and coworkers; to stay the course; to continue to follow recommendations/mandates; and to continue to be considerate of others.

Individuals also have different levels of comfort as it relates to the virus. Some are certainly more concerned than others. Those less concerned must be cognizant of the possibility for heightened anxiety in others. You are not asked to feed into their anxiety or to adopt their level of concern. However, you should keep these considerations in mind, especially as it relates to operating in shared spaces, such as work or out in the public. Take a moment to watch the link HERE obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website (I wear a mask because … ).

There are those who argue against the effectiveness of mask wearing. However, the CDC recommends the wearing of masks to slow the spread of the virus. WHO adds that although “the use of masks alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection against COVID-19,” masks should be “part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives.”

We can and shall get through this, but it will require a little effort and sacrifice on everyone’s part. With the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, we may stay safe and protect others by taking some very simple precautions, such as: ensuring and maintaining adequate social distance; wearing a mask; avoiding crowds and large gatherings; and washing or sanitizing your hands regularly.

We are well aware of the impact of COVID-19 as an organization. The decision was made months ago to go completely virtual for the 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting. This is not a decision that was made lightly, but it was a decision made with the health and safety of our members and meeting attendees in mind. Currently, it is not safe to gather together, and we are unable to predict the future or course of this pandemic. However, we can safely plan for a virtual meeting in order to provide an annual meeting experience comparable to what our members have come to expect.

As the virus continues to run its course, I encourage each of you to do your part. I urge each of you to protect yourselves and those you care about. I ask that you continue to follow recommendations. I also hope you consider taking advantage of the virtual meeting opportunity as we continue to navigate this pandemic together.

Please stay the course and stay safe … not just for yourself, but for others as well!