I vacillate between moments of heartwarming solidarity and then utter disbelief at such poor decisions being made that feel like gut punches.
I fully stand by previous statements I’ve made while traveling this wonderful world: Americans are some of the friendliest and kindest humans out there.
It may be a bit harder to say today watching people fight over toilet paper or continue to go on bar crawls.
But I’ll still say it. I may say it while gritting my teeth, but I’ll continue to say it. I will, because you know what? We’re better than that.
COVID-19 has busted through our proverbial American front door. Truthfully, it was at our doorstep for a while. But we’ve watched comfortably from afar for far too long somehow thinking our borders were immune to it. I will not dive into the data that supports much more should have been done all along as it’s fruitless now. It’s here.
It’s here and it feels personal.
You know what, screw that. It is personal.
I wave goodbye to my ER doctor husband each day from our large front window that fills the room with just enough sunshine, welcoming spring to come visit. I watch him pull away and I wonder when he’ll get infected.
His chances are higher than yours or mine.
I call my ICU nurse sister each day checking in. Her hopeful voice a reassuring comfort during this uncertain time. I hang up and wonder when she’ll get infected.
Her chances are higher than yours or mine.
They may already have it. You and I may too. Collectively, we can slow the spread. No, this isn’t to shit on your plans you’ve looked forward to for months. This is to allow the hospitals to have a fighting chance. In very basic terms, if everyone gets sick all at once, doctors will be faced with choosing lives; choosing whom gets one of the very limited ventilators, let alone beds to lay in.
Listening to doctors and scientists is something we used to do. Can we reinstate that?
There are only 46,500 medical ICU beds in the US. That number alone does not lie, we all can’t get sick at once. Car wrecks, heart attacks, surgeries, baby deliveries; those all still happen during a pandemic.
This is very real and you not coping with temporary inconveniences puts loved ones lives at risk. Is that worth it to you?
How about your friend going through chemo? Your grandparent in a nursing home? Your parents!
This is not about me, this is about we.
We, collectively. We, as Americans.
Your minor, temporary inconvenience of staying home as much as you can is taking care of we, us, the group, fellow citizens, neighbors, as a whole.
I have hope. I have hope that as information spreads, people are educated and make the proper, collectively considerate decisions.
No amount of hand sanitizer will save you when you’re going out in groups, going out for elective fun, no matter how vigilant you are. You may not show symptoms for 5-11 days (or any at all) and are sharing it with others! You are testing the boundaries and saying your life and fun matters more.
Social distancing works. For those who need a visual, this is an incredible source to show how and why it’s important to social distance.
One person in South Korea refused to be tested and instead went to church and a buffet lunch. One. She is the source for over 1,100 infections. No brunch or bar is worth being That Person.
Going out right now to have fun because you aren’t scared is ignorance and an ugly display of elitism.
YOU may not be affected by this, but the people you infect along with way may be. I don’t know about you, but I would have a hard time knowing I contributed to a scenario that looks like this:
- I don’t display symptoms and give it to my immunocompromised friend who now has to go to the hospital, which is already bursting at the seams.
- The hospitals get inundated with critically ill patients and doctors have to make decisions on who lives and dies.
This isn’t a dress rehearsal. This isn’t a snow day. This is life and death and you effectively have the chance to single handedly play a positive role in flattening the curve. Stay home as much as you can.
As my sister said, zero people want to have to be in a hospital for the next 30-60 days, whether that’s for a broken leg or having a machine breathe for you. You do not want to be there in a petri-dish of infections and potential chaos.
I may joke that as a freelance writer and business owner, I’ve been training for this moment to stay at home for years.
When was the last time I showered? Have I worn these yoga pants for 2 or 15 days? Did I eat lunch?
In total honesty, this feels much different. It’s a choice I have to make for a situation I’m not (necessarily) in control of, rather than the benefit of being able to stay at home.
Social distancing is not a buzzword. It works. It protects you and the people you love.
Have those tough conversations. Ask family to FaceTime instead of coming over. Tell your parents they shouldn’t be going out with friends for lunch. Your temporary uncomfortableness at those awkward talks will save lives.
Think about that, for however brief a moment.
This is your chance to make the world a better place with one simple decision after another.
This is your chance to demonstrate that other people beyond your social circle matter.
This is your chance to save lives.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to be a superhero.
Now’s your chance.
As a side note, this isn’t the time to personally shame. This is a time to educate. If people don’t know, calmly explain and tell them. Do the best you can if your line of work doesn’t allow you to telecommute.
If you still know the risks, still see the data, still hear doctors and scientists talk about proven methods of slowing the spread and your choices today still mirror ones you made prior to this pandemic, then that is convenient ineptitude and ignorance.
Personal sacrifices I’ve made:
- Told grandma I won’t see her for at least 3 weeks
- Canceled a girls night dinner
- Postponed a baby shower we were hosting
- Skipped a volunteer board meeting
- Haven’t gone to gym classes in a week, and won’t for at least another 2-3 weeks (this one sucks big time guys, I get it.)
- If this continues for months, we won’t be able to have a party to celebrate my husband finishing residency. 13+ years of work and sacrifice … and it’s a pill I’m willing to swallow for YOU.
I hope you do the same for me.