I don’t want you to die.
The other night, the President stated that he plans to re-open businesses and get the American economy going again. He said this despite calls from public health experts to continue with the current efforts to close all but non-essential services and practice social distancing as a country. The Lt. Governor of Texas backed the president’s statement by saying that “Lots of grandparents would be willing to die in order to save the economy for their grandchildren.” I want you to know, that I don’t want you to die. In fact, most Americans do not want you to die. Putting yourself in harm’s way is not going to save us.
This novel Coronovirus puts all of us at risk, but you are particularly vulnerable. While most people who will get the virus will have mild symptoms, you are more likely to have complications and are more likely to die when exposed. Most of us are acting as if we have the virus and staying away from people like yourselves who are most vulnerable. I am concerned about you because I grew up without grandparents and I have always felt that loss.
I lost my grandmother in the flu pandemic of 1918. She sacrificed her life as the virus spread throughout the world killing millions. And while she died some 50 years before I was born, her death changed the trajectory of my father’s life and in turn my own life. My father was only one year old when she succumbed to the flu. He was the youngest of three children and his father, an Italian immigrant and a mason, could not care for his children any longer. He placed them in an orphanage for a number of years before his father remarried and returned for his children. My father never recovered from this loss. Throughout his life he mourned for a mother he couldn’t remember but never forgot.
Just like my grandmother you would be missed. Your children and grandchildren’s lives will be changed forever. They need you. They love you.
I also don’t want you to sacrifice yourself because I don’t want you to suffer from this disease. My wife is being currently monitored as a suspected case of COVID-19. She is a healthy 57-year-old athlete who developed pneumonia and has been struggling to breathe for over two weeks now. I watched her as she was barely able to move from the gripping pain in her back — a result of a lung filled with fluid. I watch her as she takes her inhaler trying to expand her airways to allow for more breath. I listen to her breathing hoping the fluid rattling in her lungs stops so I know she is in the clear. And I listen to her as she tells me how much pain she is in; how a deep breath hurts her lungs. She doesn’t wish this disease on anyone — and certainly not on you.
Finally, public health experts assure us, if we discontinue our current efforts, patients will get sick in such high numbers that the US healthcare system cannot hold under such enormous strain. They warn that the death count in the US alone will be in the millions — a loss of life so grave as to devastate our economy anyway. Your sacrifice would do little to save our economy.
Governor Cuomo said, our number one job is to save lives. That includes yours. Please know, most of us are not willing to sacrifice you for the sake of our economy. You are a part of our community. You are valuable. You are loved.