Over the past few months, the term “coronavirus” or COVID-19 has unfortunately become commonplace in our lives. We first learned about the virus when it occurred in China late last year, and from the onset, many did not take it seriously.
Once the CDC announced the first case of the coronavirus in Washington State back in January, many in our country were still oblivious to what was at stake or what was to come for the rest of the country. In fact, some were more infatuated with the fact that the flu killed more people in pure numbers than the coronavirus, so why worry? What many did not focus on were the percentage of deaths between the two. For example, 0.06% of people die from the seasonal flu each year, whereas the coronavirus is currently killing 4.0% of those with the virus.
The challenge with this virus is how exponentially fast it grows and the fact that our most vulnerable populations are at risk. For our elderly or for those that suffer from conditions such as asthma, COVID-19 is particularly dangerous and potentially fatal. This has been an especially traumatic time for the nation of Italy because of the older average age of its population. Italian hospitals became so overrun with patients that doctors were put in the tragic position of having to choose who gets treatment and who they must let die.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention learned from the experience in Italy that in order to contain the virus, it would have to institute strict social distancing and aggressively communicate preventative measures such as washing hands often, covering your mouth when coughing, not touching your mouth, nose or eyes, and avoiding close contact with sick individuals.
I believe the defining moment in our nation came when the NBA was forced to suspend its season when an NBA player was diagnosed with the virus. This was immediately followed by every major professional sport and the NCAA following suit. That is when a vast majority of people started to realize that this was no joke and that urgent measures needed to be taken. Soon after, schools started to close and almost every single person was forced to adjust their lifestyle. This has been especially a difficult time for business owners of restaurants, bars, gyms, and other establishments that have been forced to close all or some of their business in the interest of public safety.
There comes a time in your life when the need for sacrificing for the common good should rise above the “me first” entitlement era that we currently live in. That time is now. This is our new normal; this is our World War II, our new 9/11. Like the police and firefighters who ran into the Twin Towers during 9/11 while others were running out, today it’s our doctors and nurses on the front line. The hospital caregivers run toward the virus to help those in need, while we are asked to sit on the couch and wait it out.
This is a time to pray, spend quiet time with family, and let go of past disputes with a loved one. It’s a time to teach our kids about sacrifice and not embolden their complaining. To inform them that they could carry the virus and infect the elderly. It is a time for us to make the extra effort to support local businesses and check in on an elderly neighbor or family member while realizing that corporations may go bankrupt, hundreds of thousands of people may lose their jobs, and the stability of our economy is at stake.
This is a time for real leadership, one that unites our community and our country. Leadership is about more action and fewer words. It’s about integrity, decision-making, empathy, and compassion. It’s about listening, learning and follow-through. This is our moment, this is our time, and this will be our legacy. We are all being called to come together, yes to kill COVID-19, but also to come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. May God bless you all! spt