People Post is a space for opinion pieces, letters to the editor and guest submissions from members of the Long Beach community. The following is an op-ed submitted by Dr. J. Mario Molina, a physician and former CEO of Molina Healthcare, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Long Beach Post.
We are in the thick of a battle against a corona virus that never existed before, a battle not unlike the one our forefathers faced during the First World War over 100 years ago. Now, as then, this battle will be fought in the trenches and will rely heavily on the work of volunteers. And, just like in other wars, there will be casualties.
My spirits are lifted by the tremendous gathering of our community. People are volunteering to purchase groceries and pick up medications for older persons so that they can remain in their homes. Others are ordering out from favorite local restaurants so that neighbors’ businesses will survive this period of social distancing.
If you want to sign up to help with the fight, here is what you can do.
First, stay at home. Sounds simple doesn’t it? The first few days probably were a pleasant change from the hurly-burly of modern life. But it is going to get tougher in the weeks and maybe even months ahead. China took this seriously and has begun reporting days without any new cases and is reopening some retail businesses. However, it took months. There is hope, but the struggle won’t be an easy one.
Second, don’t hoard. America has plenty of food. There may be temporary shortages of some items but that is a reflection of disruptions in the delivery chain, not a lack of actual goods. Hoarding, taking more than you need, doesn’t help you and it may deprive others of what they need. Our water supply is safe. Drink tap water. I find it a bit alarming that people are hoarding toilet paper, but not soap. What’s up with that? Remember, you are your brother’s keeper. Take care of each other.
Even more important, don’t hoard masks and gloves. These items are called personal protective equipment and could save the life of a doctor or nurse working to care for someone you love. Our front-line health-care workers are inundated in a sea of virus. Masks work by blocking large droplets from a cough or sneeze, but these droplets can only travel three or four feet before falling to the ground or landing on surfaces. That is why hand-washing is important. The main way the virus is spread is from touching contaminated surfaces. Keeping your distance works better than a mask. Likewise, gloves give people a false sense of security. We know that most health-care workers who contracted Ebola did so by contaminating themselves while removing protective gear. Not only that, people who wear gloves often don’t wash their hands because they feel it is unnecessary. Wrong! Leave the protective gear for those that need it most: paramedics, doctors and hospital personnel.
Third, take a vacation at home. That’s right, a staycation. Don’t hold dinner parties at home or invite over the neighborhood kids. That defeats the whole purpose. We now know that up to half of people infected with the virus may exhibit no symptoms. Just because someone feels fine and appears well does not mean that person is not carrying the virus. Remember children are MVDVs: Mobile Virus Delivery Vehicles. When my kids were little, they brought home every virus and shared it with the entire family.
Take the money you would have spent on hotels and travel and put it toward a charity that can help with the fight. Many people will find themselves temporarily out of work and we can help. Here are a few of my favorite charities: The Opportunity Fund established a small business relief fund to help local businesses survive. The California Community Foundation makes rolling grants to individuals distributed through local nonprofits. The Robin Hood Foundation provides emergency cash to individuals identified by community partners. The Tipping Point Community aims to raise $30 million in 30 days to help people no longer able to meet basic needs like rent or buying food. The Los Angeles County Food Bank is leading the way locally and Feeding America is the nation’s largest hunger relief organization.
Finally, give blood. After all, they give you free cookies and juice.
So, are you ready to help? I hope so, because your nation is counting on you.
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