I’ve had enough. I see comments and posts from people on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about how stories of the battles people face while fighting COVID are a “hoax” or a “scare tactic” or are some how propaganda and I am here to tell you, they are not.

At the very least, they are cautionary tales. While yes, there are people who contract COVID-19 that are asymptomatic, and there are those who get it and make it through just fine, there are others that are not so lucky. There are those who are hospitalized, put on ventilators, have lingering effects that no one can tell you the duration of.

FOX-17 recently ran a piece about an EMT from Otsego County, Mich. who spent three months total in three different hospitals while fighting the virus. His last stop was at Mary Free-Bed in Grand Rapids. That EMT? Is my uncle.

I’ve been sharing updates on his progress since the beginning of his journey: friends, family, and strangers followed along from the day that he was admitted to the hospital, put in a medically induced coma, and on a ventilator through to the day that he was finally able to return home. For many it made this virus personal, even if they had never met him. “Uncle Doug” became, in their minds, as much of a part of THEIR family as he is mine.

I’m happy to say that he’s still improving every day, but the long term effects of this virus on his body are yet to be seen.

Personally, while sharing his journey, I DID receive the questions: “is he older?” (Not really, he’s 59.) “Did he have underlying health conditions?” (Again, he’s a full time EMT - they do physicals. Did he EVER have health issues before? Sure. But they are none of your business.)

When someone gets sick with cancer, or diabetes, or the flu (which so many are quick to equate this virus to), no one asks those questions. No one says, “Well ONLY X% of these people are actually dying!” And therein lies the difference - this virus has been so politicized for reasons I can’t even begin to fully understand or explain, that people are willing to put their own health at risk and act like a-holes, just to “stick it to” whatever “man” they think has made it this way. Let me tell you something that maybe no one else will - this virus doesn’t care who you voted for, who you’re going to vote for, what your religion is or isn’t, or if you think it’s a hoax. It will infect you no matter what your beliefs are.

Now, I see the story from FOX-17, our media partner, and read the comments from people in our community and it makes my blood boil. On Instagram, several people told FOX to stop with their “scare tactics”, one man quipped, “he’s old and he beat it... so stop spreading fear!” He’s not that old, and these are not scare tactics.

These are stories about your fellow Michiganders who went through the worst of it, and wouldn’t wish this upon you, no matter now misguided your comments may be. They are real life examples of why you should be diligent about keeping your friends and your family safe.

I KNOW that wearing a mask is uncomfortable and inconvenient for you. I GET that you’re frustrated that live events like concerts and fairs and festivals aren’t happening. I feel all of those same feelings.

But... if you want to call stories like these “scare tactics”, JUST. STOP.

These are people who went through the worst of it and want to make sure that you don’t. THAT is why THEY, with their own mouths, are telling you to wear masks, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.

And they only speak to what they, personally, as the sick person, went through.

On the other side are people like me. The family members who had to sit idly by while their family member laid in a hospital fighting for their life. Have you ever had a family member ill in the hospital and NOT been able to visit them, hold their hand, or even talk to them? It’s hell. And *I* don’t wish that on anyone.

No one is trying to scare you into being a “sheep”, no one is trying to take away your freedom, all of us sharing these stories are trying to KEEP. YOU. SAFE.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. And please, take care of yourself and one another.

I hope you will. And my Uncle Doug does, too.

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