I have seen several posts on Facebook and on TV of health-care workers giving accounts of what it’s like on the front lines of ICUs, emergency departments, and 911 call centers. Many, generously and compassionately, attest to knowing others who have it worse than they do. But they also speak of not having adequate protective clothing and equipment, of trying to make do with plastic trash bags for gowns and reusing masks in place of proper gear that would really protect them. Some of these workers have immunosuppressive conditions such as asthma; nevertheless, they continue to go to work, aware of their own peril but knowing there might not be someone to take their place. They often go home dead tired, having worked 12-hour shifts.
Despite the hardships and fears for their own health as well as for that of their families, they remain passionate in their care for COVID-19 patients. They work tirelessly to keep their patients alive. When all else fails, they hold the hands of dying patients, comforting them as they slip out of this world without a loved one at their side.
Please, if you participated in demonstrations in a state capital and urged that your officials end the quarantine—or if you support these protests—please think about all who enter hospitals every day to care for and do the best they can to heal those suffering from COVID-19, and who comfort those who aren’t going to make it. Think of the first responders who transport infectious patients, the transit workers who take possibly infectious people to their jobs, and the grocery workers who come to work because they know people need to feed their families. They do it despite being scared. They do what needs to be done, understanding the need to work together in unity. How much harder are you making their jobs?
It might have been restful and relaxing at home for a while. However, worrying about the future is getting to all of us. Please make sure your actions actually help the situation. Make your politicians know that you won’t be happy if the rich are richer at the end of this plague. Write, call, and email your politicians; demand that all workers—health-care workers, cleaners, first responders, transit workers, grocery store employees—have the necessary masks, gowns, and equipment to remain safe on the job.
If you want to demonstrate, join nurses who are demanding adequate PPE—and do it without guns. Demand the president activate the Defense Production Act so all PPE, equipment, and supplies are manufactured here in the U.S. and sold at a fair price so states are not bidding against another, jacking up the prices unnecessarily. Demand that everyone be provided with an income for as long as need be.
Additionally, check the history of some of the flags you march under. It’s likely you had a grandfather or great-grandfather who fought to rid the world of fascism and the Nazi flag. You might have had a relative who marched under the stars and bars—did they do so willingly, or was it at the point of a gun? Please, check out that history, too.