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Dr. Kevin Harada: Will this divide us or will we unite?

 

Last updated 10/10/2020 at 9:51am

Times are getting more difficult and the decisions we make now will have repercussions.

For the first part of 2020, COVID-19 has largely slipped under the radar in Montana. This has cultivated a sense of complacency and skepticism. And for the most part, people have let down their guards. Large gatherings continue, mask wearing is still debated, and the lethality of COVID-19 is questioned. Why must something as potentially devastating as COVID-19 be so controversial?

For the local skeptics, it is here. It is on your doorstep. Your neighbors are being hospitalized. The most vulnerable among us are being devastated by this terrible virus. People are living in fear. Your community needs help. A question was asked at a local school board meeting of "Where are the body bags?" My response, "They are coming." Has it come to the point where we must produce body bags for us to care for our neighbors? To do the right thing and help the most vulnerable? The opportunity upon us now will show whether it will bring out the worst in us or the best. I pray that we will see the best of our community.

The myth that "it only effects old people" must be dispelled. Yes, younger/healthier people have much lower risk, but the risk is not zero. But consider for a second who transmits this virus to the most vulnerable. It is usually the young and healthy who have mild symptoms, who unwillingly transmit this to others.

Therefore, the more people who have the virus, the harder (bordering on impossible) it is to protect the most vulnerable.

The other misconception that needs to be addressed is "They had co-morbidities; they were going to die anyways". Again, people with existing medical conditions are at high risk for complications from COVID-19. But make no mistake. Just because people are advanced in years or have medical conditions does not make their lives or years expendable. These are grandparents, parents, siblings. Their years are just as precious, although less numbered than the younger generation. In this pandemic, the degree of respect we have for each other will be defined by our actions and how we choose to support and protect our neighbors.

If we drop all the politics and infighting; our goals are the same; schools open, businesses flourishing, dinner and a movie. Those who oppose more government shut downs have to realize that we have the tools at our disposal to meet these goals and avoid further exponential spread. But if we continue to resist common sense and decency for political reasons, we are all in for a long winter.

The request is simple. Do your part. Wear a mask. Stay home if you are sick. Wash your hands. Avoid gathering in large groups. Last I checked COVID-19 is color blind, and does not care if you represent red or blue.

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Dr. Kevin Harada is chief of staff at Northern Montana Health Care

 

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