Why We Still Need To Take The Pandemic Seriously

Matthew Donnellon

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

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Our backs may be against the wall but we aren't out.

Right now, we live in a world where grandparents are meeting their new grandchildren through windows and patio doors.

Seniors are cloistered in their homes.

The infirm and immuno-suppressed keep inside to avoid being compromised.

People have spent their last moments alone. The lucky ones get to say goodbye via phone or radio. People are spending their last moments with doctors and nurses instead of their family.

The specter of disease has cast its ghostly pall over the entire planet - a calamitous event so large that no one can escape its grasp.

The world ground to a halt, engulfed in an unearthly silence. In less than a month, everything changed. School and workplaces are empty. The vast majority of people are confined to their homes.

Because we are at war. Not with a rival nation, nor a combative tyrant, but it is a war just the same. We are at war to regain our way of life. We are fighting to hug our loved ones again. To greet our grandparents in their homes and not through window panes.

And we will fight by tooth and nail to restore our world.

The story of human beings is the story of survival, of overcoming odds. Humans arose as weak, weaponless, too clever for their own good organisms and had to fight every second of our existence. Each age brought new wars, and new plagues, and each instance, despite several times faced with our own destruction, we moved forward.

And now, we are engaged in a collective battle with an invisible enemy. It is a skirmish on a global scale.

Not since World War II has a conflict spread so far and left no community untouched. And like World War II it will take a collective, herculean effort to overcome the task at hand.

75 years ago, the world had to rise to defeat a madman. It took dozens of nations and millions of lives, but they prevailed.

They landed on beaches and rose flags on islands. The sands and mud of foreign countries were littered with the boot prints of patriots who would never return home. But their sacrifice was not in vain.

The war was not fought purely at the front lines, but also here at home. For each young man marching forward, there were a dozen people here doing whatever was necessary to achieve victory.

They collected scrap metal. They rationed food. They grew victory gardens.

It was a time of unprecedented cooperation.

And we have found ourselves in the same position again.

We have come to another nexus point that will determine the future of the human race. But, the enemy isn’t across the ocean this time. It isn’t even at our gates. It’s among us.

This time we are not fighting with rifles and tanks, but with gowns and respirators. Not boots and uniforms but hospital scrubs and masks.

The conflict’s end will come with the birth of a vaccine rather than the creation of the atomic bomb.

We are at war not with our fellow man, but with a force of nature. One that cannot be seen and does not fight fair. It attacks our elderly, our vulnerable, and more and more often our young and healthy. We will not have one ground zero but a thousand. Your closest hospital is no longer an ordinary building but a battleground. Our emergency rooms have become Normandy Beach and our ICU’s are the Battle of The Bulge.

Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors are not the front lines anymore, but our hospital staff. Doctors and nurses, along with a dozen other types of hospital staff make up the ranks of our warriors. They are taking care of patients, cleaning hospital rooms, and answering phones.

And as the front lines strain to contain the spread and keep breathing, they must do so knowing what the soldiers in World War II knew.

That we have their backs.

And we have but one goal.

To buy them time.

Each day we delay the waves is another day for them to prepare. It’s another few minutes for them to guard against the oncoming assault.

The vaccines are coming, slowly but surely. And we will waste the sacrifices all these people made if we stop caring now.

The only thing that can make up for our severity of inaction at the beginning, is the severity of our action now. We must stay apart in order to come together. The holidays are coming and the best thing we can do is keep our distance no matter how hard it seems.

Doctors and nurses are staring down a monster. They are standing at the edge of fate and we must stand with them.

We must help in whatever way we can. Donate. Give money. Give time. If you live with a healthcare worker, make their lives as easy as possible in the few moments they have at home. And if you cannot think of any other way to help, then all you must do is stay home. Stay safe. Make sure that you aren’t adding to the problem.

As they fight for us we must fight for them. Even the smallest bit will help.

It is to my utter disappointment that I have naught but words to give. Because to stand idly by is unbearable.

They were drafted into a fight they did not ask to be a part of. And the coronavirus does not know the gravity of its mistake when it decided to take on our medical gladiators.

They will fight.

They will win.

Because the gates of heaven have broken forth and angels are among us now as our doctors and nurses treat our sick.

They called the group of people that lived during World War II The Greatest Generation for a reason. They did the impossible. And now the Greatest Generation is the most vulnerable. So we must protect them. And now, with numbers growing, and the odds getting steeper.

We must be great once more.

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI
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