The loss of a paycheck is a major traumatic situation. The loss of life is worse.

It’s mid-summer. Time for family vacations, camping trips, backyard barbeques with family and friends, all the great things we look forward to during those cold days of winter. However, where do most of us find ourselves right now? I’ll tell you where: In the clutches of COVID-19 and with no end in sight to its tyranny.

I’m a fairly well-educated individual and of sound mind and body (according to popular opinion), but for the life of me, I can’t figure out the reasoning of our trusted (and I use that term loosely) leaders in Washington.

I remember learning in American History the phrase “the buck stops here” uttered by the then-President Harry S. Truman. These days “the buck” is passed everywhere except the office of the president.

From the very onset of the public being told about the existence of COVID-19, its seriousness was downplayed. Nothing more than dealing with something similar to the flu, it was said. Less than three months after that statement was uttered, the United States and most of the world was dealing with the ravages of this virus. The term “pandemic,” which I had not heard previously in my lifetime, became the most commonly heard word on the daily news. Healthcare systems found themselves without enough PPEs to protect physicians and nursing staff as they went about the task of caring for the inflow of COVID patients into their hospitals. Not enough beds, not enough ventilators, not enough testing materials, not enough …  Leaders in Washington dumped the majority of the issues onto the laps of the governors of the various states to acquire the necessary materials to treat their citizenry and to set up guidelines for their states such as “stay at home” orders among a list of others. Some of the governors did a great job coming up with solutions, others not so much.

Throughout this emergency, all the public heard from Washington was that everything would be fine; the virus would soon be gone. Well, it hasn’t simply disappeared; in fact, as of July 24, 2020, according to the CDC, there are 4,024,492 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and a total of 143,868 deaths. And the caseload continues to climb daily throughout the majority of our country. We are now being instructed to mask up and maintain social distancing when we are out in public, along with proper hygiene. After months of denial, our president is finally admitting that it might be a good idea to wear a mask when out in a public setting as a preventative measure of protection. Too little guidance coming a bit too late.

I was in one of my local stores the other day, which now requires all customers to wear masks before they can enter the premises. I overheard a conversation between a male customer, who I approximate to be in his mid-30s, talking with the cashier about being required to wear a mask. He said that he didn’t agree, that it was infringing on his freedoms, and the cashier agreed with him. The cashier then added that she wasn’t sure how much of this “pandemic stuff” was true. I had all to contain myself to read them “the riot act.”  How about they talk with the family members of those individuals who have died from this virus. See how much of a “hoax” this virus is to them. Go into the ICU units of hospitals and see the victims of this disease. Talk to the nurses who care for these patients and who have to stand by and watch a previously healthy 30-something-year-old person die because there is nothing that can be done. Talk with those persons who supposedly have recovered from the virus, but who now are experiencing a multitude of health issues such as severe muscle pain, heart issues, etc. This disease just simply won’t let go.

What on earth are we doing here, folks? To try to save a tanking economy, workers were sent back to their jobs much too early, causing again a spike in cases of the virus. I realize that the loss of a paycheck is a major traumatic situation for any breadwinner, but so is the loss of life.

Our doctors and nurses are doing their best to treat COVID-19 patients under their care. Many are putting themselves in harm’s way and risking their health to care for those hospitalized. Some have been separated from their own families so as not to potentially carry the virus to them. And how do we repay them for their valiant efforts? By ignoring the guidelines put forth by the CDC and all other medical institutions- that doesn’t make sense.

Until a vaccine is tested and determined to be safe for public distribution, let’s all use some common sense. We will eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel, and this virus will recede. This will only happen if we all stand united to fight this disease. I think it’s worth the inconvenience of you wearing a mask to protect me and me wearing a mask to protect you. Stay safe and well.

Michele Luckenbaugh is a patient. 

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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