In our current crisis of pandemic proportion, we hear much about the sacrifices we all need to make — staying home, maintaining distance, vigorous cleaning — to reduce the direct harm that COVID-19 will have, particularly with the most vulnerable of our society. What isn’t talked about enough is why these hardships are equally important, if not more so, to reducing or mitigating residual harm.
Without the current coronavirus, there is a sub-set of society who rely on the medical community — from mothers giving birth, to those needing urgent surgeries like appendectomy, to accidents, to the thousands of other cases requiring immediate medical care. From the routine to the urgent, our health care system runs at a given capacity. With the looming crisis, that capacity is about to be slammed, in some cases crushed, causing serious residual harm. The sacrifices we are enduring are not just to protect the old and vulnerable from this new virus but also to shield those who would otherwise use the medical system if there were no pandemic.
Those ignoring the guidelines of maintaining distance, either selfishly or stupidly, perhaps don’t understand the impact that the pandemic is having, and will have, on all of us, from newborns to those at end-of-life, and everyone in between.
Now is not the time to dwell on our personal hardship of reducing, to an absolute minimum, unnecessary physical human interaction. Now is the time to focus on what our hardships are contributing to, namely the health of the whole. The sooner all of us align our focus on the whole, the sooner the whole will start healing.