Remember to Be Kind
Unfortunately one of the biggest themes I've noticed as the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved is selfishness.
Reports that testing availability was blocked to make numbers look better
Hoarding of items for personal use
People and organizations attempting to profit off the need of essential items
Refusal to help others
Traveling or going to events while sick or knowing of potential exposures
I admittedly was too flippant about this issue until within the last week, and I know I've exhibited selfish behaviors. I traveled to a conference of 600+ OB/Gyns in DC last weekend thinking it wouldn't be a big deal (meanwhile, every other major medical conference was canceled). I'm young and healthy and took precautions of excessive sanitizing, but gathering in large groups is one of the very worst things for us to be doing right now. So far I continue to be healthy and don't know of any reports of infections of conference attendees, but in terms of public health, it was a mistake to have gone. Even though a major factor in attending was the ability to advocate for OB/Gyn patients and processes of care, it was a selfish move, and for that I am feeling major guilt. I'm thinking carefully now about any and all upcoming plans and trying to figure out what to do with them.
Perhaps I'm being especially introspective on this as it's all happening during a time when The Good Place has become my running-on-the-treadmill-Netflix-show-of-choice, making me consciously focus on ethics more than I probably ever have before, but where do we strike the balance of living our lives and acting for the benefit of the greater good?
I'm not here to say that we should all block off our doors and windows and not leave our homes for the foreseeable future. There's many reasons that's not practical, least of which for me is that again, I'm an OB/Gyn, and there are patients who need in-person care.
I hope that through all of this, though, we can remember that OTHER PEOPLE MATTER and that kindness and consideration is an important part of functioning and surviving as a society.
Stop hoarding stuff. Nobody needs a pallet of toilet paper. Leave some for the rest of us who also appreciate clean tushes.
Don't try to profit off of suffering. If you do find yourself with surplus goods, please donate and share.
Stop fighting with one another. There's no time or space for hate here.
Provide the help you can where you can. What worries me about this most is all of the people left without options. When colleges close, what happens to students who have nowhere else to go (international students, otherwise homeless students, students with unsafe family situations, etc)? When other schools close, what happens to kids who get all of their meals there?
Stop traveling. Yes, you planned an awesome vacation and are so excited about it. Yes, you feel fine now. Going to airports, packing into planes, staying at hotels, and going to attractions means coming into contact with many other people and touching surfaces many other people have touched. Just because you and those other people may not have symptoms now (as far as you know...) does not mean you're not spreading this virus around. A majority of us are going to contract the virus eventually, but slowing that spread helps decrease the burden on healthcare services. There are already hospitals where, due to lack of remaining resources and equipment, physicians are being faced with variations of the trolley problem - who do you save? That's a terrible circumstance that no one wants to face.
If you choose to go out to social events, limit the number of people, avoid close contact, stick to places that aren't busy, and wash or sanitize your hands a lot.
Through everything that you do, remember to be kind. Many people are confused, overwhelmed, overworked, and stressed as this pandemic unfolds. Being patient and nice goes a long way.