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Dr. Kit Nazor, a Chattanooga native, helps daughter Charleana put her face mask back on as she returns to the dugout during a T-ball game in San Diego.

Thank you, scientists.

Because of your dedication, my husband, Hank, and I were finally reunited with our son and his family on the West Coast.

Fully vaccinated, we flew from Chattanooga to San Diego on April 15 for a nine-day visit. We hadn't seen our son, Kit, daughter-in-law, Bonnie, and granddaughters Charleana, 4, and Misha, 2, since Christmas 2019.

Being separated for that long was especially hard knowing that our little girls might be shy around us. They weren't, thanks to many FaceTime conversations over the last year. They knew exactly who we were and couldn't wait to be in our arms and receive our love and attention.

Thus far, we've made it through the pandemic by meticulously following all safety guidelines.

Kit, a scientist involved in COVID-19 research, and fully vaccinated, continues to religiously wear his mask, even outside when he's coaching Charleana's T-ball team.

My immediate family, all of whom have been fully vaccinated, will continue to wear masks with the exception of when we're around family and friends who've also been fully vaccinated. In any public setting, indoors or out, we will wear masks.

My 11-year-old granddaughter, Evie, had to quarantine last week after a classmate tested positive for COVID-19. The virus is still out there, and because of people who refuse to be vaccinated and/or wear masks, it will continue to circulate and affect others, including children. While the majority of children with COVID-19 fare well, some don't.

Children infected with SARS-CoV-2 are less likely to develop severe illness compared with adults; however, children are still at risk of developing severe illness and complications from COVID-19, reports cdc.gov.

I believe most parents and grandparents wouldn't want their children and grandchildren to contract the deadly virus and they would therefore get vaccinated and wear masks to keep this from happening

To date, around 580,000 people in America have died from COVID-19. Worldwide, the death toll is a staggering 3.23 million.

In America, every person over the age of 16 can be vaccinated against the virus. And, in America, every person, with some exceptions, is asked to wear a mask. The reason? To keep us safe. Period.

I will wear masks for years if it's what it takes to be safe and to keep my family and you safe.

On our trip back from San Diego, I'm embarrassed to say that it was a group of unmasked people traveling from Atlanta to Chattanooga who laughed in the face of science by defying the federal mandate of properly wearing masks.

As we waited out bad weather at our gate in Atlanta, this group of about eight had no respect for themselves or others. Despite the airport's constant announcements telling people to wear masks, this particular group of people did not.

On the flight, however, the Delta flight attendant made several announcements about properly wearing masks, covering mouth and nose, while on the flight and in the airport once we landed in Chattanooga. She said those who didn't would be reported to federal authorities.

I wanted to stand up and applaud.

Wearing a mask is an inconvenience, but it's a worthy one. I don't like the ones that go around your head, and I had a hard time keeping on ones with straps that go behind the ears until I discovered mask lanyards. The lanyard hooks onto the straps and you tighten it at the back of your neck. It works perfectly for me.

Wearing a mask has become routine for my family. Sometimes when getting in the car or even walking into the house, we forget to take them off until someone else reminds us.

Things are getting back to normal, thanks to the people who've been vaccinated and continue to wear masks. We're in this together. I don't want to see one more person get sick or die from COVID-19 when it could have been prevented.

Thankfully, Evie's COVID-19 test came back negative. Though she is diligent about wearing a mask and we thought it was unlikely she contracted the virus, having her classmate test positive was a concern. So, please, people, get vaccinated and wear a mask. Hopefully neither you nor your children or grandchildren will ever test positive for COVID-19.

Email Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com.

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