This post was originally published on St. Louis American

By Reginald J. Cline

I believed, like many people, that the pandemic was over, and I let my guard down. I had been vaccinated and received one booster shot. After flying to the Washington, D.C., area on three occasions, I did not get sick. This was during the period when everyone had to wear a mask in the airport and on the plane.

More recently, I flew to the island of Grenada, where my father’s family is from, for a cousin’s funeral. Most people wore masks during the service, but no one did during the reception. We were required to undergo a COVID test prior to flying back to the states, and my wife and I were among the few to wear masks on the plane.

On the day of our return, I had a cough and runny nose and noticed that I had lost my sense of taste. I used my government-provided home test kit and tested positive. For the next 2 1/2 weeks, I was home sick and quarantining. While I didn’t end up in the hospital, I did have a terrible cough for days and felt miserable.

“I am a living testament to the fact that COVID is still out there and write this commentary to warn people to remain vigilant.”

But my COVID symptoms were mild compared to many, which I attribute to the vaccine and because I had the omicron variant. When I got sick, no one was talking about COVID; it was as if the pandemic had passed us by and there was no more chance of getting sick. I’d stopped using my mask, except when I traveled.

I am a living testament to the fact that COVID is still out there and write this commentary to warn people to remain vigilant.

Yet the CDC is still advising people to wear masks in public, especially where COVID rates are above 5%. In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, we are in the 20% range. Yes, COVID-19 is back, and it’s spreading quickly. We are experiencing contagion rates not seen since the height of the pandemic.

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