As cases of COVID seem to be steadily rising in Southwest Missouri, it’s clear to me that it’s still a viable threat. However, I can't help but notice that society seems to have returned to a sense of normalcy.

I was exiting the restroom at the grocery store this past week and noticed the woman in front of me decided against washing her hands. On an average day, it's expected that you follow basic hygiene and wash your hands after using the bathroom. However, amidst the worst pandemic our generations have seen, I'd classify it as a necessity.

Practicing basic hygiene, social distancing and wearing masks are not political statements to me. They’re acts of compassion for those around you.

So many people who are close to my heart have suffered from this awful virus. My grandfather got sick instantly and spent his last 10 earthly days alone on a ventilator in the ICU.

For over six months now, we’ve seen the toll COVID-19 has taken on our Americans. Like any new illness, new treatments have to be explored. There was no way to truly know what we were dealing with.

It's hard to grasp the pain and helplessness COVID victims and their families experience until it has hit your own family, but I can tell you, it’s excruciating.

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than knowing a loved one is suffering and then not being able to say goodbye.

I would have loved nothing more than to hold my grandfather's hand and give him one last kiss or hug. Taking away any sense of comfort during the final days of life is arguably the worst side effect COVID has.

Now that we’ve seen the death toll rise and know how greatly it’s impacted our families and communities, I can only pray that things get better. I pray that the Lord will shield and protect our elders and guide the many COVID-conspirators to simply show compassion for their fellow neighbors.

This is unfortunately not a hoax. It’s one of the most heartbreaking times we have lived through. Don’t be lax in your caution and tell your family you love them every chance you can. Wash your hands, wear a mask when you’re asked to and just show compassion for your neighbor.

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