" Let’s all do our share."
Since the COVID-19 outbreak we have been deluged with references to the frontliners—mainly all medical and health workers attending to the needs of those who get to the hospitals or those who simply give advice, directly or through media, or even those who planned out no matter how belatedly our responses to the outbreak.
Their courage, fears, needs, tribulations and hopes have been the continuing thread of our time. That they have truly become the face of our main combat formation in this battle is beyond question.
Equally, although belatedly noted and making the rounds, are the tales of all others who are themselves in the thick of the fight, making sure that the wheels of our daily existence keep turning. They are soldiers, policemen, LGUs and other government personnel manning the posts, workers in the food industry, service workers of all kinds from the delivers of essential needs, banking, transport and the like and all others out there. They have made their mark etched in the minds of a grateful people.
But wait. These heroes of our time have now gone on record telling us in not so many words that in the end it is you and me, us, the entire community who should be considered the frontliners in this critical undertaking.
One hospital worker, a certain Doctor Michelle Au of Emory Hospital in the US, says that the front line is us: you and I, tasked with the challenge of keeping the entire community safe. In her words, the hospital staff is the last line of defense to take care of those who have to finally get to the hospital.
"The history of public health, " Dr. Au says, "is a story of prevention. It is preventing larger problems before these happen. It is done through social distancing and preventing community spread, cleaning, sanitizing, making sure that everyone is safe."
She says she would be more than thankful if nobody needs to be hospitalized. Dr. Au's words resonate with all the ones aired by a number of other hospital staff, here and abroad, who in a sense are saying: we are working hard and staying here at the hospitals at such great risk for you, so you can stay home for us. One video message from a hospital worker aired in You Tube under " Life Goals" captures such a heart rending message which should keep us all in check.
This message about You and I being, in the final analysis, the front liners in this battle is the clear advise of Yale University epidemiologist Jonathan Smith. Noting that lockdowns and similar social distancing measures decrease contacts with the larger society, it increases one with the basic societal group – the family. It is that grouping which should be the object of far, more intense scrutiny and social distancing measures. Thus, he notes that while connections between groups, i.e., social dinners, gatherings, schools, playgrounds, offices, groceries, markets, etc., can be properly ascertained and measured, that within the family may not be as scrutinized making it the most probable risk area which can break the chain of prevention.
Said Smith: "Seemingly small social chains get large and complex with alarming speed.If your son visits his girlfriend and you later sneak around for coffee with a neighbor, your neighbor is now connected to the infected office worker that your son's girlfriend's mother shook hands with any of those happening that can break the chain."
He adds: "In contrast to hand washing and other personal measures, social distancing measures are not about individuals; they are about societies working in unison. One quick little get together can undermine the entire framework of a public health intervention."
His words are similar to those of Dr. Au and all other health workers: "Until we get a viable vaccine this unprecedented outbreak will not be overcome in grand, sweeping gestures, rather by the collection of individual choices our community makes in the coming months."
It is, as one meme in social media noted, I and U that will put this v I r U s out of circulation for good. Let us do our share in solidarity with all.