Another upsurge in coronavirus cases is taxing our medical systems. COVID-19 cases have hospitals bulging at the seams. The virus is spreading quickly in colder weather as people head inside for large gatherings. These are daily headlines.
I have witnessed first-hand what these upsurges of the coronavirus does to a community. My husband recently was hospitalized at Walter Reed Hospital, and while there, an influx of COVID-19 patients pushed the limits of hospital capacity. I watched the overworked medical staff, dressed in layers of protection—masks and face shields—struggle to care for extremely ill and highly contagious patients. My husband has home follow-up care with the Riverside Health System. Wearing the same protection, these nurses never complain.
A retired RN, I am a keen observer, cognizant of the need to comply with health and safety measures. I have seen many local businesses not complying with state mandates, and non-compliant maskless individuals inside various locations.
I ask myself every day, why are so many reluctant to comply? Why don’t they care? Some say the virus is a hoax. Some say it has been a political ploy. Some say “it’s a violation of my rights.” What about the rights of another not to be infected by non-compliant individuals? Despite all the information available some just do not understand transmission of the virus.
Well, my friends, COVID-19 is real. It is not a hoax. It is not political. It is a very real and deadly virus, which transmits from person to person through the respiratory tract. One can be infected for two weeks before showing symptoms. It can be seen under a microscope. Nurses, emotionally overloaded, watch their patients die alone. Ask someone who has lost a family member to the virus and didn’t get to say goodbye. Individuals with underlying medical issues, such as diabetes or heart disease, have little chance of survival if they contract COVID-19.
Our own grandchildren, ranging in age from 8 to 14, wear masks everywhere. If children can be responsible so can we adults. Medical staff wear masks and face shields 12 hours a day with perspiration running down their faces.
Non-compliance is not acceptable in this pandemic. It shows a lack of concern for our fellow man. We need to work together to win this battle. It’s so simple—wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Listen to the experts. Do the responsible thing. Your life and the lives of others could depend on it.
Brenda King, a Gloucester County native, is a retired Registered Nurse living in Mathews.