See Disclaimer. This article was also published as a letter to the editor in the Hood River News, under the heading “Together” (March 25, 2020).
History will judge harshly the delayed response of the US Administration to the COVID-19 pandemic. Squandering the benefit of timely warnings, the Administration failed to adequately prepare, act, and communicate—all compounded by the President’s aversion to learning and refusal to take responsibility. The price is already tragically high.
As broken and surreal as political realities in our country and world are, though, the human spirit is alive and well. We see it a little everywhere.
As an oceanographer at a medical university, I watch from the safe distance afforded by modern communications, a range of dedicated health care professionals at a main hospital prepare and act to deal with a crisis of unparalleled national and global impact.
Their selfless dedication—replicated across country and world by so many of their colleagues, too often in daunting conditions—is inspiring. As is inspiring the science-based knowledge that guides them, expanded daily through the around-the-clock work of biomedical researchers everywhere.
As a US citizen, I watch with respect as dedicated public servants, at the Center for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and Health Authorities across the country, struggle to prevail, with courage and subject mater competence, over the hurdles created both by the pandemic and a dysfunctional political context. Of their success depends how we survive this crisis.
As a neighbor, I watch with concern and admiration owners bringing resolve and creativity to the challenge of keeping their small businesses from collapsing, amidst an upside-down reality that threatens lives and livelihoods. The same applies to staff at public utilities, support centers, and educational institutions, striving to maintain normalcy in essential services. And to employees at supermarkets and delivery services, suddenly placed at the front lines of an epidemic. Of their dedication and success, too, depends how we survive this crisis.
We are all in this together. People like you and me make everyday decisions that matter deeply. Hand hygiene, social distancing, use of resources, kindness and caring, staying healthy, and voting—are all among individual choices with enormous collective consequences.
Let’s choose wisely.
— Antonio Baptista