COVID-19 unmasked the real United States.

It not only highlighted the pent-up frustrations of millions of Americans living on wages that leave them perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy, but also a frightening superiority complex that fools many into thinking that we are not only invincible, but also "above" any of the temporary measures being suggested or enforced to help curb the spread of a highly contagious virus.

Now that we see our country with no makeup on, it has become increasingly clear that we, as a nation, lack the intestinal fortitude to defeat this pandemic. Keeping our distance, wearing a mask in crowded or public spaces, or simply staying home to limit potential exposure shouldn't be that difficult, but this weird fan fiction narrative countless people subscribe to that these measures are infringements on our freedom and are leading to some sort of new way to control us, once funny and easy to brush off, is now extremely harmful in our nation's effort to rebound from what this year has brought our way.

Rather than trying to keep our neighbors safe, many would rather scream and cry.

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Countless citizens from countries around the world took these measures seriously. In many of these countries, COVID-19 has been brought under some sort of control. Yet in many places on our own soil we see COVID-19 cases and deaths rising by the day ... still. We're a couple of months away from the supposed "second wave" we've been warned about, yet we as a nation haven't even been able to overcome the first wave. I sure hope many of our callers to New Jersey 101.5 are right when they say "this whole thing will be gone after Election Day."

When the pandemic first hit back in the spring, a lot of people, myself included, wanted to compare this to 9/11. COVID-19 is an unprecedented, largely unexpected event that changed our way of life. It's only natural that we would want to compare it to the closest thing to that we've experienced in our lifetimes. But as the weeks and months rolled on, it became abundantly clear that the comparison was inadequate.

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In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Americans came together in perhaps the greatest display of unity and patriotism ever seen. A sense of community, the notion of working together to overcome such a tragedy. Fast forward to 2020, when Americans spent about a month debating whether the lives lost are more or less important than the crumbling economy — forgetting that many of the people falling victim to this virus make up large parts of the very economy in question. Democrats trying to control us vs. Republicans not doing enough, losing sight of the fact that no one has a playbook for an event like this. Trying to paint Dr. Anthony Fauci as a fraud and a liar for flip-flopping on wearing masks, as if the right call to make in that regard was a known fact back in March and April. As more research was done and more information became public, the powers that be adjusted ... or at least tried to.

Some decisions by government officials have been inconsistent, adding even more confusion to an already perplexing time. At times it seems there is no rhyme or reason to the decisions being made. But none of these measures are malicious. As misguided as some of these decisions may prove to be, safety for Americans always seems to be the motivation behind them. That does not make these government officials immune from criticism, but it also doesn’t mean we should disregard this pandemic as overblown or a hoax because some people don't agree with everything they are doing. Some of these restrictions and measures put in place are reasons why the COVID-19 numbers in this country still aren’t as bad as they could be.

The whole world got a crash course in battling COVID-19 this year. America failed the test. No one hates the term "the new normal" more than I do. If you turn on CNN at any time of the day, you'll likely hear it mentioned 5 to 10 times in an hour. To me, "new normal" implies the pandemic won't be finished with us any time soon. And if the lackadaisical approach to fighting this virus - which comes from the top - continues, this will become our new normal.

BACK TO SCHOOL — LIVE DISCUSSION THURSDAY: On Aug. 20 at 7 p.m., New Jersey 101.5, child well-being experts and educators will discuss plans to send kids back to school ... or not. Listen on New Jersey 101.5 FM, watch live at or watch on the free New Jersey 101.5 app, and ask your questions in the live chat.

Is COVID-19 here to stay in some capacity? Possibly, likely in a more manageable way. Will we have to live with annoyances like smaller capacity limits, virtual learning and no indoor dining forever? No. But if the blatant disregard for our current reality continues, we may be opening Christmas gifts from grandma over Zoom this year.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.

Questions, corrections, or comments? Send Joe Votruba an email. Follow Joe on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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