Now the news reports are of one or more new strains of COVID-19 currently appearing in England and a few other Western European countries, apparently emanating from South Africa via travelers.
When Eva told me of this news last evening, we looked at each other with, for the first time for me, a feeling of dread. We are so protected in our metaphorical cocoon that this news brought forth what many other people who are less protected and more vulnerable undoubtedly have been experiencing.
Our protection arises from our being retired from employment, being healthy, living in an apartment complex maintained by others, in a neighborhood surrounded by trees, with one side completely on the water of a large arm of Lake Mälaren, in having neighbors who are respectful of each other and of the need for observing the behaviors necessary to prevent transmission of the virus currently affecting the world… and having each other for comfort and company. Many people of our ages (67 and soon-to-be 84) live alone.
I awoke at 5AM with these thoughts in mind. Further rumination brought forth memories of when I was the chief executive of acute care community hospitals, sometimes in California and sometimes in Alaska, all with active emergency departments.
Each Christmas I would send a message to the hospital’s employees and members of the medical staff thanking them for being on the job while most of us were enjoying the blessings of Christmas and other religious and pagan holidays. These are the folks I’m thinking of now. And not only the hospital people, but all those who are maintaining what is unpoetically called the infrastructure we most of the time take for granted:
Water, electricity, sewerage, refuse collection, street cleaning, public transportation, police and fire protection, civil and national defense… I’m sure to miss some important categories and people.
I think about the first responders I have known: emergency department physicians and nurses, lab and other technicians and supporting staff, and on-call surgeons in all specialties.
Thank you, everyone, for putting your safety at risk while protecting Eva and me, and our neighbors and relatives and friends.
“May God bless you, every one.”