We expected to go to a wedding in mid July in which I planned to photograph but received a text from the bride and groom saying the groom had contracted the Delta variant of COVID. They were distraught and disheartened that they would have to postpone their wedding.

At that point, the groom had a fever and flu-like symptoms, and the bride had not been sick. The groom, having some health issues, learned he was a candidate for an antibody infusion. Shortly after the infusion, his fiancé became sick but tested negative twice for COVID. After it became very clear that she also had COVID, with the symptoms of a high fever and extreme body aches and the start of poor breathing, she was admitted to the hospital. On her third test, she tested positive for COVID, the Delta variant, and was diagnosed with pneumonia.

The groom, in his mid-fifties, responded well to the antibody treatment and was not in need of hospitalization. But the bride, in her late forties, had not been treated properly because of the two negative tests and began a downward slide.

She received oxygen in the hospital, began to improve and was released. But within a week, she couldn’t breathe well and was readmitted. The diagnosis was pneumonia in both lungs. She had a fever of 103 and oxygen level of around 50%. The doctors were concerned about blood clots and said she was in critical condition.

She was placed on a ventilator and a coma was induced.

The possibility of losing her is still very real for the family. Her condition remains the same today. With hopes of attending their wedding, the family now faces a possible funeral. During the illness while she was awake, she casually mentioned to me that she wished she would have been vaccinated. Her fiancé had not been vaccinated either and expressed regret.

Then last week, a younger friend from high school, in her mid-forties, and who now lives in Georgia, announced on Facebook that she and her husband had contracted COVID from a dinner party. She described her journey. The virus started out with little symptoms and progressed to worse symptoms and eventually landed them both in the hospital. She had been a strong opponent to vaccination but now stated she would be getting one as soon as she was able.

The virus is very real and seems to be hitting younger people this time around with the Delta variant.

But with all that said, I question if our government has completely thought it through in mandating the vaccine.

In a time where hospitals are flooded with patients and businesses are short staffed, are we really going to fire people because they refuse to get the vaccine? It’s one thing to mandate a mask-wearing policy, but it’s quite different to take away someone’s livelihood for a disease that has a death rate for those who contract the virus in the United States considerably lower than those of other previous pandemics.

A friend of mine who has been a nurse at a hospital near the Twin Cities for a number of years told me she is now going to lose her job because she doesn’t want to be vaccinated. We are hearing these stories everywhere.

“During the pandemic, we were essential and on the frontlines. Now we’re disposable to our employer,” she lamented.

I am not against vaccines – or against this vaccine for that matter. But in my opinion, the government’s recent push and incentives to mandate a vaccine may have more dire consequences than if the virus was allowed to run its course, allowing people to gain a natural immunity, or if Americans are simply allowed to choose their course of action in response to this virus. In my opinion, it is tyrannical to force this on hospitals and nursing homes in order to participate and receive funding from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

What will the fallout be when up to 40% of our workforce cannot go to work? And hospitals and businesses cannot provide the necessary services to meet demand because they are not properly staffed?

What will be the consequences when a young person is turned away from the college of their choosing because they choose not to be vaccinated? What is this going to do to already disparaged races such as Black and Hispanic as they remain less likely than their White counterparts to receive the vaccine?

Only time will tell.

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