CONCERN. NOT PANIC.
Those words repeated in an address to the nation by President Joe Biden Tuesday afternoon as the highly transmissible omicron variant has now become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the US.
While Biden advised calm, he also issued a strong warning to the unvaccinated that they remain at high risk for severe illness and/or death. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before.
Yet, the warning comes with a new sense of urgency as hospital beds fill and healthcare workers continue to be overwhelmed. The actions of those choosing not to get vaccinated are affecting all of us, the President said. The unvaccinated, he noted, have an obligation to themselves, their families and their country to get vaccinated.
I agree. I would emphasize, though, the obligation to others. Family. Friends. Neighbors. Strangers. The common good.
Like the President, I’m feeling tired, worried and frustrated. Frustrated particularly because we have the tools to end this pandemic. Vaccination. Testing. Masking to stop the spread. We know so much more than we did when this pandemic started, a point the President emphasized in saying, “This is not March 2020.”
But here we are, hospitals filling or full. Not enough staff to treat patients. National Guard and federal military personnel now called to help over-burdened hospitals/healthcare workers. We should never have gotten to this point.
Biden termed the misinformation out there about vaccines and the virus “wrong” and “immoral.” Some of the misinformation I’ve heard from those who oppose vaccines is unbelievable, making me wonder how anyone can believe the untruths spewed.
At this point, it seems like people have made up their minds about vaccination. I know of cases when not even the death, or near death, of a family member would convince someone to get vaccinated.
So here we are with the federal government calling up 1,000 troops to assist in hospitals. They’re already in Minnesota. And newly-arrived in Wisconsin and Indiana and other states. More ambulances are being sent to states. Additional vaccination and testing sites are being set up. Soon we can order COVID tests online, delivered free to our homes. All of these actions are necessary.
But we must also do our parts individually. And that starts with the very basic premise of caring for one another. Caring enough to get vaccinated, and boostered. Wearing masks in public settings, regardless of vaccination status. Testing if we have symptoms or have been exposed. Caring that our actions affect others.
I feel gratitude for those 200 million plus Americans who are fully-vaccinated. They did the right thing. For themselves. For their families, friends, neighbors, community, strangers. For the common good. For their country. I can only hope the remaining however many million will choose to do the right thing and get vaccinated. I don’t want unvaccinated people to land in the hospital on a ventilator. Or worse. Die. Nor do I want vaccinated individuals who may experience a health crisis unable to get the care they need because our understaffed hospitals are filled with unvaccinated COVID patients.
NOTE: If you are anti-vaccine, anti-mask, anti-whatever, don’t bother to comment. I won’t publish those views, or misinformation, on this, my personal blog.
© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling