Mayor Baraka: This COVID-19 lockdown will save lives | Opinion

Posted Nov 27, 2020

By Ras J. Baraka

In the past week, there has been much speculation over Newark’s 10-day lockdown. People seemed to get caught up in the semantics, trying to figure out the words to describe the measure rather than focusing on the intent, which is simply and bluntly to save lives. To save lives.

It is ironic to me that in his holiday season, where we pause to celebrate our blessings and be among those we love, some of us have forgotten COVID-19’s tragic impact on families, who now have someone missing at the table. It is the responsibility of all of us to stop these losses.

As of Tuesday, the people of Newark have lost exactly 700 loved ones to COVID-19. I say exactly to illustrate this is not a round number or an estimate. Every one of those 700 lost souls were grandparents, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts in families, and their absence is permanent and does not diminish with time.

From Monday to Tuesday, Newark added 174 cases of COVID-19 to add to our total of 15,738. Again, those are not just numbers. They are people who have suffered, even in recovery, or waited anxiously to see if COVID-19′s symptoms would ravage their bodies. For some, the disease exacerbated other medical conditions, again, with lifelong consequences.

The other night someone told me about a COVID-19 death of a person, but quickly added he was 70 and had diabetes, as the reasons he expired. The underlying theme of such statements, apart from the callousness, is that those of us without those comorbidities proven to make COVID-19 more fatal are somehow safe. We are not. Neither are those we come in contact with or those they come in contact with.

The lockdown, therefore, is not only to save lives. It is to show compassion, as a community to those, who may not be as fortunate to enjoy good health or have sufficient medical care. To ask people to stay indoors and shut businesses is not punitive. It is a civic duty for each of us. It is asking each individual person to consider – and love – their neighbors and act responsibly to keep them safe.

In this most critical regard, Gov. Phil Murphy and I are in absolute agreement and in lock-step. We are making decisions to save lives. To not put the lives of our constituents ahead of any special interests or political pressure would be an abject failure of trust and leadership.

I know there is COVID-19 fatigue. People are tired of wearing masks, they are tired of not being able to go out, or to go about their routines, they’re tired of the rules. To make matters worse, we still have people who believe enforcement of such simple safety measures as wearing masks and keeping social distance somehow impedes on their liberty. They should remember the order the Declaration of Independence demands. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Life comes first.

Those who know me say I rely too much on sports analogies when trying to inspire my administration to tackle the challenges we face. That may be true but in this deadly struggle, it is appropriate. COVID-19 overwhelmed us at the start but with data guiding our decisions we figured out a defense to battle back and stopped the attack. But then we relaxed and let down our guard. COVID-19 has roared back and now we need to again show our discipline and strength as a team and go back to the defense that worked. And so, with the promise of a vaccine coming, we need to show our strength and character as a team. We need to be disciplined and systematic and collaborate as a community for the good of all.

We know what works. After our spring and early lockdowns, Newark had many days through the summer with no new cases and no deaths. This lockdown will turn us back in that direction.

Ras J. Baraka is the mayor of the city of Newark.

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published this page in News and Politics 2020-11-28 03:44:40 -0800