April 11, 2020

The long game

Don’t get me wrong. These are troubled and challenging times. People are dying, people have lost their jobs and livelihoods, people are isolated and lonely. Children and families are stressed, and we are being challenged in ways that we did not see coming two months ago. Areas of the country wonder if the mandated shut down was too strong, others wonder why the mandates did not come sooner. The epidemic is still ongoing, many places have not reached their peak. Yet, most people are staying home despite Passover and Easter, two of the most family oriented religious holidays of the year. Funerals are postponed or limited to 10 people. People are understandably getting tired of their confinement and want it to end. But we are not there yet.

But what is the next step? Is it safe to come out? People are starting to get antsy and considering taking risks. A pandemic expert from Texas A&M talks about the 5 stages of a pandemic. We have passed the containment phase and are in Stage 2, the mitigation phase. Mitigation is what we are doing now- trying to limit the damage. That is what you and your families are doing and it is making a huge difference. Tens of thousands of lives are being saved, simply by staying home. At some point we will enter Stage 3, which is containment on a different level, more testing and more tracking down contacts. This Seattle Times Article writes about what comes next also. At this point, we are not even completely sure about immunity. As we learn more about the virus and how to treat it, we will move forward.

But we are not there yet. I wish we were. I wish everyone could get out and play with each other and get back to where we were. But that is not going to happen. The thing is that we are in this for the long game, this is going to take time. Moving forward puts more lives at risk, especially the health care workers and the essential workers who are helping us everyday. Health care workers have higher risks of, not only getting infected, but getting really ill and dying. Maybe due to their stressful work conditions or the higher exposure to the virus. It is not clear why that is yet. So if you think it might be OK to just go ahead and get infected to get this over with and that you will recover without problems because you are young and healthy, stop, think of those people who are risking their lives daily.

And just maybe, maybe we can work for a better, more just world why we wait. The slow down is helping many parts of the earth heal, the air is cleaner, there is less pollution. Dolphins are swimming in the canals of Venice! The long game is an opportunity for change. Dr. Fauci has some thoughts about disparities that he spoke about this week. Read more about him in the New Yorker. We can work for better access to health care for these reasons alone. If we could all be more like this, if we can look and listen and learn, the world will be a better, kinder place.

Wash your hands.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

And here is a bonus read, answering many of your questions about masks, which I do think have value.