Daily COVID-19 cases continue to climb, and we have yet to even reach the “peak” of this fourth surge. Earlier this week the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, originally rescheduled for October, was cancelled for another year. Special events and the hospitality industry are major economic drivers for countless workers across the South. For example, the cancellation of Jazz Fest means thousands of people will lose jobs: musicians, food vendors, artists, security guards, stage managers, carpenters, electricians, sound technicians, and more. Think of the lost tourism dollars for hotels and restaurants and how that affects their employees. Livelihoods are diminished or lost altogether when events like Jazz Fest must be canceled.
These cultural events are the very things that help define our beloved communities and southern culture and sadly, the news grows even more grim.
News headlines from across the South document the atrocity of the growing number of children with COVID in ICUs as children are becoming sicker compared to this time last year. Add to this that school is starting in many communities across the South and our children are incredibly vulnerable to this virus. It is our responsibility to protect them. We do this by protecting ourselves and getting vaccinated, thereby keeping them safe, too.
Because only a third of Southerners have taken their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, we all remain vulnerable, especially our young children.
It’s plain to see how we’re all connected. We are interdependent.
Mask mandates, vaccine requirements and customer capacity limits are things no elected leader wants to consider. But this moment calls for courageous leadership. Protecting our families and our communities, especially those most vulnerable, requires more people to be vaccinated and to take strong public health measures to slow the spread.
While we have a lot of other news to talk about, there is nothing more important than keeping one another safe and using our voice to encourage vaccinations. Join me in doing everything you can to help keep us safe. There is too much life to be lived and no place does it better than right here in the South.
Go to vaccines.gov to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines and schedule an appointment now. Already received the vaccine? Share your story and encourage friends and family via calls, texts and social media to get the vaccine. It’s this kind of personal outreach that can really make a difference.
Together, we can end it. Stay safe.
Founder & President, E Pluribus Unum