To be completely candid, my original topic for this article was a welcome to our winter visitors and all the wonderful activities and events that happen this time of year in the Southwest Valley. We do live and work in a wonderful community with nice people, plenty to do, and a great quality of life, which is the reason we like being here. My topic changed when I heard two national news reports that will or has already reached Arizona.

The first news was the announcement by the states of Mississippi and Texas will lift the statewide mask and other virus-related mandates. Counties in both states have the authority to continue enforcing restrictions as required, which has been missing from most national reports. 

Obviously, debates are ongoing as to whether this action is correct or not. Governors in both states are doing what they believe is best for their residents. I continue to hope our Arizona elected officials are doing the same for all of us. Texas and Mississippi join other states in loosening the restrictions with regard to the virus. Breaking News: This was bound to happen. The question for us: When will Arizona be on this list? 

The virus and government’s reaction to it impacted our economic, social and mental health. The second news story focused on mental health, and that bothered me the most. I don’t have any kids, so now you know my situation, but my concern is genuine. Suicide for teens and younger children doubled during the pandemic. That’s appalling. It was also reported there were triple the cases of self-harm, such as cutting, and 1 of every 5 teens or young adults considered suicide. Reasons for this included isolation, feeling neglected, strain on family life and more. Alcoholism and drug and other addictions increased in all age groups. All this was brought up as a concern a year ago but never really given any serious attention or consideration. The numbers are bad. We most definitely don’t want them to get worse.

Anthony Fauci and other doctors have said this virus will be with us for a long time. There’s no cure for the common cold, as many a wise person has said. For centuries, we have individually and collectively done our parts to avoid getting sick. The medical experts have said COVID-19 will have a “tipping point” where the virus spread will be very much reduced or a rare occurrence. Maybe Texas and Mississippi are the first signs this point has been reached. It’s also a signal we need to urge our elected officials to focus on the economic, social and mental health issues with as much vigor as they did with “slowing the spread.”